Let’s talk about it: Juanita Oxenrider

Charley Project Irregular Katherine B. suggested I do a “let’s talk” feature where I post some of the most bizarre Charley Project cases there are to offer, and let people have free rein speculating about them in the comments. I don’t think I have enough super-bizarre cases to make a regular weekly go of this, but here’s the first one anyway:

Juanita Marie Oxenrider, a pregnant 29-year-old who disappeared after she, her husband Donald, and a friend, Thomas Maynard, took a ride out on the Oxenriders’ boat on the Patapsco River in central Maryland in 1976. The boat mysteriously exploded and sank in broad daylight in only fifteen feet of water, but no bodies were immediately recoverable.

Six months later, in the river about a mile downstream from where the boat sank, Donald Oxenrider’s body turned up. They were too severely decomposed to determine the cause of death. In an even more crazy detail of this case, the other passenger, Thomas Maynard, turned up a decade after that, alive and well — the guy was facing serious criminal charges at the time of his disappearance, and he’d jumped the country and had been in Canada all that time.

But what happened to Juanita? You decide. It’s worth noting that she has been declared legally dead. But if she’s still alive she’d be about 69 today, and her baby would be 41 39.

Let’s hear it from the comment crowd. All theories are welcomed.

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16 thoughts on “Let’s talk about it: Juanita Oxenrider

  1. L. September 15, 2016 / 1:42 pm

    My guess is that both Oxenriders were lured onto the boat and murdered, with the expectation that authorities would assume Maynard died in the explosion even if/when they found David’s remains. In a gasoline powered boat, allowing gas vapor to get into the bilge (where it could mix with oxygen) has the potential to cause a serious explosion and wouldn’t be difficult to rig. Maynard escaped the pending charges, plus there may have been a plan to cash in on an insurance policy for his relatives. Juanita’s remains were possibly placed elsewhere; she couldn’t be left behind at home, since she would have mentioned her husband’s excursion with Maynard in the aftermath of the explosion.

  2. Amy September 15, 2016 / 3:07 pm

    Of course my theory would be that Juanita and Thomas were having an affair (baby could be his), planned this, both escaped and were together…..for awhile. Something happened and Thomas did away with her and her child. OR she and her child left him and now years later she is afraid to come forward because she’d be in a whole lot of trouble.

  3. Marshall Loveday September 15, 2016 / 3:29 pm

    I don’t have any theory on this one…

    MEAGHAN – How do we contact you to make a suggestion for a blog topic? I can’t find any ‘contact me’ link. Thank you.

    • Kat September 15, 2016 / 5:44 pm

      On the home page, up at the top, there is a Contact Meaghan link.

  4. visionjinx91 September 15, 2016 / 3:53 pm

    Since this is a free speculation, the most out of the box conclusion and the first thing that came to mind: what if the baby was the result of an affair between Maynard and Juanita, and the husband found out the day of the boat trip, so Maynard flees and blows up the boat.

    No doubt Maynard had sometime to do with it, but at the same time, if he was a survivor of a accidental explosion, that would be the perfect opportunity to escape his criminal charges and live under the radar.

    Okay after reading the whole case file, the timing is just too much of a coincidence. A theft facing serious charges just so happens to supposedly go missing on after a boat explosion while on bail. The Oxenrider’s either knew too much or were accomplices, and the boat explosion was nothing more than a cover-up to either the team’s disappearance or the Oxenrider’s murders and Maynard fleeing.

    My biggest questions about this case is:
    1. How close was the relationship between Maynard to the Oxenrider’s? I’m assuming they had to be well acquainted, but how well?
    2. What was Maynard’s moves after the boat explosion? If he fled to Canada right after, how did he get there? The closest place he could have traveled was Toronto, which is almost 9 hours away from Patapsco river, but would take far more longer if he didn’t have a car and hitch-hiked/walked there. Also how did he cross the Canadian border?

    My speculation is that the Oxenrider’s never left the river alive, Maynard killed them because they either knew too much or he never even intended to kill them, but their murders were more of an after thought that fit best with his getaway plan; however, their murders were likely pre-mediated, which makes me think of the Oxenrider’s boarding their boat with the intention of having a nice boat ride with their “friend”, while their friend is thinking about how he is going to pull it off, so sad, they had no idea.

    • Amy September 15, 2016 / 4:18 pm

      Actually from the river he could have crossed from Buffalo into Ontario. However, that still is a 7 hour trip. Can you even cross the peace bridge on foot? If not, he had to be traveling by vehicle. Hitchhiking?

      • visionjinx91 September 16, 2016 / 2:57 pm

        Thank you, I thought about if the river was connected to Canada, but Google maps only showed me the distance by car. I wonder if he had a getaway boat in reach, and I also wonder where exactly the boat was found on the river, like what was around the area (businesses, parks, other docks, residential, etc.), and if they had traveled some distance from the dock at
        he time of explosion,

  5. Umbrella Pogo September 15, 2016 / 4:29 pm

    Not related to this, but I have a suggestion. I know you profiled the sad case of Robin Putnam before. His remains were eventually discovered, along with his wallet which was mysteriously discovered thousands of miles away on some train tracks in Chicago. Robin’s parents are very active – they were recently profiled on an NBC News article online.

    Anyways, recently on Facebook, the Putnam parents described their frustrations in dealing with the Amtrak Police. Apparently, Amtrak is sitting on video surveillance footage showing their son exiting a train with a mystery person who has never been accounted for. The Putnams made an interesting assertion on Facebook, something along the lines of the numerous disappearances and murders tied to passengers on the trains.

    Might be interesting to see a “Make A List” section related to disappearances associated with either Amtrak or train stations, if this hasn’t been done already.

    • Amy September 16, 2016 / 8:29 am

      I followed that story closely. Was heartbroken when they found his remains as there were SO many reported sightings of him.

  6. Lauren September 15, 2016 / 6:52 pm

    What an awesome idea Meaghan! Love this!

  7. aphra75 September 15, 2016 / 6:59 pm

    Most plausible explanation: Juanita died in the explosion and her body’s out there somewhere.

    BUT. It was Juanita and Donald’s boat! So something tells me that she had something to do with it, along with Maynard. Amy’s explanation works. Bet she’s still alive out there somewhere, with a whole new family.

  8. Lauren September 15, 2016 / 7:11 pm

    I’m guessing Maynard was not on the boat or he would have met the same fate as Donald. He probably caused the fire and so he knew the boat was about to explode and jumped off before it did (or maybe he never actually got on the boat?) Given how long it took to find Donald’s body, I’m not surprised they never found Juanita if she’s in the water. It would be interesting to hear Maynard’s accout of the events.

  9. M. Cartwright September 16, 2016 / 1:07 am

    I’d question if Juanita ever got on the boat. Donald very well could have been murdered before the explosion. Juanita is/was most likely alive. Initially at least….

  10. fluttergirl September 16, 2016 / 8:43 am

    I love reading everyone’s theories. My guess is that Maynard killed the Oxenriders (what an interesting surname) and went straight to Canada. He wouldn’t have had any problem crossing the border. I remember crossing several times back in the ’80s. The authorities were only concerned with what you were carrying on you. And if he went to all the trouble of murdering a couple of people and staging his own death, I’m sure he had fake identification already created.

    PS – Her baby would be 39, not 41.

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