As most of my listeners by now have noticed that my podcast focuses on missing person’s cases so I figured why not look into the phenomenon that is the “how to disappear guides” that are floating around on the internet today. The internet is a very useful tool but when people create articles of this sort it can unfortunately give someone who is considering disappearing the tools to do so. These articles have been around for years but now are getting more and more present. I do not condone this, I simply want to talk about some of the things mentioned in these articles as a cautionary tale for those with loved ones who may use these guides. The more you know about these guides the more prepared you’ll be and more attentive you can be to the warning signs as well. I also want to discuss cases that I have already looked into where some of the things mentioned in these guides clearly are present in these people’s disappearances…

Ok, before jumping into the guide, lets have a look at who are susceptible to run away and disappear and what drives them to do so. One that I’ve seen is children and especially teenagers running away from their families because of something that happened at home. Sometimes it can be something very small, for some people it doesn’t take much. Sometimes it will be a spouse looking to run away from an unhealthy marriage or situation. It could also be that someone is running away from law enforcement or even the IRS or immigration officers. Sometimes they will try and run away from a difficult situation, however sometimes there is no explanations.

The guides list consequences to drying to disappear, mostly because this can lead loved ones to search for them and assume the worst. One legal ramification can be if a search party is sent out with the task of searching for you, the cost will need to be reimbursed once you are found. This is why people that have run away are reluctant to return home. There are also legal ramifications to those seeking to fake their deaths or to disappear since it’s a serious and potentially illegal act. Acquiring false documents and false identities is also a serious and illegal act.

Now to the guide, the first thing they say is always travel alone. The odds of you being discovered increase significantly if you bring others especially a child. For example if you disappear with a child, you could be charged with kidnapping even if you had good intention.

One of the other things it talks about is getting rid of personal possessions. In other words if someone you know decides to pack things up for no apparent reason, or starts selling or giving away their possessions, then you know something might be up. Another thing they say is to burn or destroy pictures of you because they say that family members and close friends will use the pictures to try and find you. They also say to abandon your car and to not bring any mementos since it will tie back to your old life and make you want to go back. So before you say, I know they would never leave without this or that, they probably left it behind on purpose. Something else they mention is to destroy your hard drive or wipe the hard drive so that none of your internet history which might lead back to you is recovered.

Another thing they say is to slow down your online activity especially on social media with the eventual goal of deleting your facebook or twitter or other online profile you may have. They say this way investigators won’t have information to follow up on. The guide goes on to say leave early when your parents are sleeping or after school if your parents work late. The article is clearly targeting young people.

The article goes on to say to get rid of plastic (debit and credit cards) and to carry cash and pay using cash only. It says consider riding a bike or travelling by train or bus or walking as these modes of transportation do not require a driver’s license. Flying anywhere is not recommended since you would need a passport and the use of a debit or credit card. The risks associated with using a fake passport are too great.

The next part encourages people to lie to everyone. One thing someone could do is to create false leads. One could be very smart and plant false leads in their computer for example so that when investigators look at the computer, they believe the person is heading in one direction when they are headed in the complete opposite direction. It also encourages to tell no-one, not even your closest friends. Another thing they encourage is to create a ruse and make a long term plan, perhaps a 4 week plan. They also say that a good disappearing act takes a lot of time and recommends to start saving moths in advance.

It encourages to bring a large backpack, warm clothes, waterproofs, sturdy shoes, a tent, a light weight sleeping bag, maps, a compass and a pocket knife. Also, if you’re considering going international, you would need to visa’s and government regulations that you’ll need to adhere to. If you choose to stay in your country, make sure to stay at least 100 miles from anyone you know and never visit a vacation spot you used to visit. Create new habits. Often people can be found just by the way they walk, so they encourage to change the way you walk. They also encourage to buy clothes that you would normally not wear. If you’re a jeans and t-shirt type, then buy business suits. A new sense of fashion makes it easier to think of yourself as someone else. Cut and dye your hair. Change your eating habbits and the type of foods you eat. Wear a hat indoors to mask your face from cameras. Clean after yourselves and leave no finger print or dna evidence behind. Don’t use snail mail since it can give up your location. Only use snail mail to confuse others.

That pretty much summarises the how to guide. I don’t agree with websites hosting instructions like this, but I wanted to create this podcast episode because I want to warn the public to this in the hopes that it will discourage others from disappearing.

While reading these how to guides, I couldn’t help but see similarities with some of the cases I looked into. One example is the disappearance of Alissia Freeman. She disappeared from her home on December 13th 2015 while taking the trash from her room. She had deleted her hard drive and closed out her facebook account prior to leaving. Just recently it was announced that Alissia is fine and well and no longer missing.

There are of course other cases that I looked into that seem to have similarities to the how to guide instructions. I think of the case of Ray Gricar who had searched how to destroy a laptop hard drive prior to disappearing and his vehicle was located near a bridge suggesting that he may have committed suicide however his body was never found. What was found was the laptop and broken hard drive.

There are also other disappearances where the drivers clearly dumped the vehicles. The one case that I’ve looked into a lot and that after reading these how to guides jumped out at me was the disappearance of Maura Murray. There are many things that Maura did prior to her disappearance that are on these how to guides and it’s hard to explain.

On Feb 5th 2004 she was escorted back to her dorm room by her boss when she broke down at work crying. She had gotten off the phone with her sister. Four days later, she sends her teachers and her boss an email indicating that there had been a family emergency and that she needed to leave. It sounds like to me that the Feb 5th breakdown was tied to and a lead up to her excuse of a family emergency used only four days later. Also, she took all the pictures off the wall and packed up everything in her dorm as if to say she was leaving her life behind and ditching all her belongings (something on the list). Also, she made several internet search and made several phone calls to different places where it was assumed she was going. What I actually believe now that I read these articles is that Maura was actually planting false evidence which the investigators and her family fell for. Her plans were never to go to Stowe, The Berkshires or Burlington and it certainly wasn’t to go to Bartlett. She planted this information on purpose to buy her more time to disappear. I also believe she crashed her father’s vehicle on purpose to see how long the response time would be for law enforcement to get on scene. It’s pretty obvious when you see the crash site. It was a T intersection and she hit on the passenger side making sure she didn’t have injuries. Also, keep in mind that many people have believed that she was under the influence of alcohol at the scene yet she stayed…. My impression is that she did this to see how much time she would have in Hadley to disappear. It was a test run for what was coming. I believe she picked Haverhill NH due to the low population and small police force. I think it’s interesting that she crashed her vehicle at about 7:20 PM and she was to call her father at 8:00 PM, only minutes later… just enough time to flee the scene. This would also buy her a couple hours since her dad would just assume that she would call later. Maura left her vehicle behind and made sure to place the book not without peril again as false evidence, something that the investigators jumped on. They made the assumption that because she brought that book with her that she was going to the white mountains to end her life. In my opinion the book had two meanings, it was a book that was important to her father, and I believe her leaving the book in the vehicle was her distancing herself from her past life…. Ironically the book contained a bookmark which was a picture of Maura’s younger brother. The chapter which was bookmarked was chapter 16 entitled a question of life and death. The chapter recalls the story of MacDonald Barr and his son Tavis of Brookline Mass who were travelling with a 16 year old german exchange student. There was a storm and the exchange student was able to find shelter and Tavis was found by search and rescue who brought him back to shelter however made the difficult decision to not take the risk involved with searching for MacDonald Barr. He was found the following day. He had succumbed to hypothermia. I can’t say why Maura left the bookmark on that chapter, it could be coincidence, but it could also be that she also faced a difficult decision. Either she stayed where she was and in the situation she was in, or she leaves. In the end I believe she chose to leave, but that’s my own opinion.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *