Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

America's Missing

Do It Yourself

"The state police were under quite a bit of pressure locally to solve this case, and I think the comments were a deliberate act on their part to cut down on any publicity...It was a dirty tactic of the lieutenant to trash Brianna so that the local pressure would come off, and it worked pretty well. That was pretty much the end of the story."

Maitland said he and his wife were forced to become ever more active in the case—posters, a massive search aided by the Klaas Foundation. Even today, Maitland continues to solicit tips, which he passes on to Vermont authorities. The family has offered a $20,000 reward.

"If you don't do all this yourself, it doesn't get done," he said.

He has the same complaint as the loved ones of so many other missing-person cases: police were slow to respond and disorganized in the early days of the investigation. For example, Vermont state police for five days failed to link Brianna disappearance's to the discovery of her car, which had been found by a trooper and ordered towed.

Police agencies are now required by law to post an immediate alert with the National Crime Information Center when a juvenile goes missing—but that's a baby step, Maitland said.

He said both local law enforcement and loved ones are easily overwhelmed by a newly developing missing-persons case. America desperately needs a first-response missing persons agency that could rush in and use its expertise to ensure that investigations begin properly, Maitland said.

The FEMA-type agency could specialize in everything from publicity to investigation protocols to family aid, he said.

Today, the Maitlands have moved from Vermont to upstate New York—in part because they got death threats as a result of their own investigation, and in part because they needed a change of venue "where we could try to rebuild our life."

Maitland said he has a better relationship today with a new Vermont state police supervisor of the case, and he stays in regular contact.

"I hate to sound like a police basher," he said. "The police did not cause Brianna's disappearance, but the police might be the reason that she hasn't been found."

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