Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

America's Missing

Father Complains

A month after the girl's disappearance, Maitland complained about the state police investigation in a letter to the governor and in subsequent interviews.

"As the parents, we receive many tips that we forward to police," Maitland wrote. "Are they acted on? Who knows? Police tell you nothing about what they are doing with your case and tips, but we know the results. NOTHING."

State police responded two months later with a stunning press conference at which the lieutenant supervising the investigation all but blamed the victim, suggesting that Brianna Maitland was a drug user who had made poor choices that may have prompted her apparent predicament.

The teenager "has a very questionable background involving drug use," said Lieutenant Thomas Nelson. "She made some unhealthy lifestyle choices in her life prior to her disappearance...Brianna was involved in the drug communities in that area. She allowed that world to become part of her world."

As evidence, Nelson said the missing girl had an "unspecified" relationship with a crack dealer from Queens who was living in the area.

A week later, the state police chief criminal investigator, Capt. Bruce Lang, went even further in a conversation with a reporter from the local newspaper, the St. Albans Messenger.

The reporter wrote that Lang "confirmed Maitland owed someone money for drugs at the time of her disappearance. Lang said two people interviewed during the exhaustive investigation told police Maitland had outstanding drug debts. Lang would not say how much money she owed or for what drug." The paper also noted that a newly released photo of the missing girl showed her as "thinner and more pale."

Eight months later, the Messenger printed a front-page story that partially retracted the drug implications, which apparently were based largely on gossip in Montgomery, an insular, isolated town of 900 near the Canadian border.

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