The Strange Unsolved Disappearance of Brianna Maitland
After Brianna mysteriously goes missing, her car is later found deserted and backed into an abandoned farmhouse.
Brianna Alexandria Maitland, last seen at her dishwashing job at the Black Lantern Inn located in Mongomery, Vermont, between 11:20 p.m. and midnight on March 19, 2004, vanished while on her way back home. Before she left, her coworkers asked her to stay and have dinner with them, but she declined their invitation as she was tired but had to get home to where she lived with a childhood friend, Jillian Stout, in Sheldon, Vermont, as she had to get up early for her second job as a waitress in St. Albans, Vermont. However, she never made it back home. By all accounts, she was alone as she left to head home.
Earlier that day, Brianna took an exam to receive her GED. Afterward, she and her mother went out for lunch to celebrate; at the time, her father, Bruce was in New York working. Her mother, Kellie, recalled her daughter being in good spirits, even discussing plans of attending college with her.
After lunch, the mother and daughter spent the rest of the afternoon shopping and running errands. At one point, while waiting in the check out line, Kellie said something had caught her daughter’s attention; Brianna told her mother that she had to leave and would be back shortly, leaving the store. Kellie completed her purchase and met her daughter in the store parking lot. Kellie recalled how her daughter seemed unnerved, shaken and agitated. Upon seeing her, Brianna told her mother that she needed to return home and prepare for a shift at work later that day at the Black Lantern Inn. Not wanting to pry, Kellie never asked Brianna what was bothering her at that moment, dropping her off at Stout’s house between 3:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. This was the last time Kellie would see her daughter. When she didn’t arrive back at the house, Stout assumed that she had moved back in with her parents and brother in East Franklin, Vermont. On March 23, three days later, she called Brianna’s parents, asking them about Brianna, and it was then that everyone realized that she was missing.
The day after the last sighting of her, and two days before anyone realized she vanished, on March 20, her pale green four-door 1985 Oldsmobile sedan, was discovered abandoned off East Berkshire Road and Route 118, across from Dutchburn Farm Road, about a mile outside of Montgomery. The strangest detail about the discovery of her car was that it was found parked partially inside an abandoned barn, known locally as “the old Dutchburn house. It appeared that the vehicle had backed into building, puncturing a hole in the wall of the barn, resulting in some minor damage to the car. Investigators later came to the belief that the accident could have been staged to look like an accident.
Upon looking inside, two of Brianna’s uncashed paychecks were on the front seat. Her medicine, driver’s license, makeup, contact lenses, and what appeared to be all her clothes were found inside as well. Even stranger was that additional items belonging to her were found strewn on the ground in front of the car, as well as a woman’s fleece jacket which did not belong to Brianna, in a field near the car.
Initially, the police did not report the abandoned car to Brianna’s mother, who is the registered owner. When they noticed Brianna’s uncashed paychecks inside the vehicle, they guessed that she was the primary driver, and so went to her place of work to locate her and inform her about what happened to her vehicle. It wasn’t until three days later that the discovery of the abandoned Oldsmobile and her disappearance were connected.
After her disappearance was reported and publicized, several witnesses came forward in regards to reporting sightings Brianna’s car at the abandoned barn as early as the same night she was last seen:
- Between March 19–20, a man driving by the barn between 11:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. reportedly saw the car parked right next to the barn. He recalled that the car’s headlights may have been on and that he did not see anyone in or around the vehicle.
- A second man who drove by between midnight and 12:30 a.m. on March 20, also recalled seeing a turn signal flashing on the car.
- On March 20, at around 4:00 a.m., a former boyfriend of Maitland’s drove past the scene following a night of partying across the border in Canada. He recalled thinking that he recognized the vehicle but did not see anyone in or around it.
- The following morning, several motorists passing by the scene found it so strange that they stopped and took pictures. One of the photographers reported some loose change, a water bottle, and either a bracelet or necklace found on the ground beside the car.
There is some speculation that Brianna’s disappearance is somehow related to the vanishing of Maura Murray, a nursing student who vanished from Massachusetts on February 9, 2004, in Haverhill, New Hampshire, but that cannot be confirmed. Haverhill is only about 90 miles from Montgomery.
The FBI did meet with local authorities to discuss any possible links between the two disappearances. Both women were attractive brown-haired young women, and both vanished after car accidents in which their vehicles were left behind with personal items inside. However, investigators concluded that the two cases were not connected despite the apparent similarities. Although not entirely ruled out, investigators believe the theory to be unlikely.
About three weeks before she vanished, Brianna was reportedly attacked by a female acquaintance in front of several witnesses. The reasons for the assault are unclear. Reportedly, Brianna did not try to defend herself, even with several years of martial arts training under her belt.
Following the attack, she went to the hospital and received treatment for cuts to the face, two black eyes and a concussion. She also filed a criminal complaint against her alleged attacker. At the time of her disappearance, the case against her attacker was still pending. After she vanished, the charge against her attacker was dropped, against the objections of Brianna’s parents.
There is a possibility that Brianna left of her own accord; she mentioned to friends her plans for possibly making a short trip out of the area; described as an independent, restless young woman who was unhappy in her rural surroundings, and it wouldn’t have been the first time she had run away.
Authorities believe that she had been a victim of foul play and that her disappearance is possibly drug-related; drugs are prevalent in the Montgomery area.
Furthermore, Brianna’s parents also believe that their daughter came to harm, though they maintain that she was not seriously involved with drugs and that they did not play a part in her going missing. Her parents have since separated, and her mother now resides in New York.
Some agencies report that Brianna disappeared from East Franklin or Sheldon, Vermont.
At the time she went missing, Brianna was 17-years old; born on October 8, 1986, she would be 32-years old this year. She had brown hair and hazel eyes. She stood at 5'3"-5'5", and weighed between 105–118 lbs. Her left nostril is pierced, of which, at the time she vanished, wore a small ring or stud in it. Also, she had a faint scar extending from her left eyebrow to her forehead and wore contact lenses that were left behind when she disappeared. Her nicknames included Bri and B. Furthermore, she was taking medication for migraine headaches she was experiencing when she vanished. That medication was also among her possessions which were left behind.
In 2006, a woman resembling Maitland was caught on security footage sitting at a poker table, at the Caesars World casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. For reasons unclear, the woman was never properly identified.
In March 2016, on the twelfth anniversary of the case, investigators revealed to a local television station of being in possession of recovered DNA from Maitland’s car. The results of the DNA tests have not been made public.
In July of that same year, a fire destroyed the abandoned barn where Maitland’s car had been found.
- Vermont State Police 802–524–5993
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Nicole Henley is a freelance writer and storyteller. An East-coast girl whose obsessed with shows like The X-Files, Buffy and almost every crime procedural series under the sun. Writing the story is merely half the journey. When she’s not covering cold cases or mysteries, she’s watching movies or writing poetry, short stories, and flash fiction that may or may not be based on horror.