Disappearance of Brianna Maitland
Brianna Maitland disappeared on March 19, 2004, after leaving her job at the Black Lantern Inn in Montgomery, Vermont, United States. Her car was discovered the following day, backed into the side of an abandoned house about a mile away.
Disappearance: At the time of her disappearance, Brianna was living with her friend, Jillian Stout, in Sheldon, Vermont, about 20 miles west of Montgomery. At about 3:30 pm on Friday, March 19, Brianna left a note saying she’d return after work that evening. She left for the Black Lantern Inn in a 1985 Oldsmobile sedan registered to her mother, Kellie. After a busy, uneventful evening at work, Brianna clocked out at 11:20 pm. She told her co-workers she needed to get home and rest before working the next day at her second job in St. Albans. By all accounts Maitland was alone in her vehicle when she left.
Early the next afternoon, a Vermont State Police trooper was dispatched to an abandoned house on Route 118 just outside Montgomery, about a mile from the Black Lantern Inn. Brianna’s car was found backed into the side of the house. Known locally as “the old Dutchburn house,” it had a hole punched into its side by the rear end of the car. A piece of plywood that had been covering a window lay on the car’s trunk. Two of Brianna’s paychecks were on the front seat of the car. The trooper assumed the car was abandoned; a towing company took the vehicle to a local garage.
Maitland was not missed for a number of days. Her mother, Kellie, did not learn about the accident with the Oldsmobile until five days after it was found. Jillian Stout saw Brianna’s note on Friday, March 19, spent the weekend away, and found the note undisturbed when she returned on Monday. Assuming Brianna was staying elsewhere, she did not call Kellie Maitland until the following day.
On Tuesday, March 23, Kellie began calling various persons to find Brianna. Failing in her efforts - and still unaware that the vehicle Brianna had been driving had been recovered - she filed a missing-persons report that day. On Thursday, March 25, Kellie and her husband, Bruce, filed photos of Brianna with Vermont State Police in St. Albans. A trooper showed them a picture of the car embedded in the side of the Dutchburn house. They identified the car as Brianna’s, and realized that Brianna was likely the victim of foul play.
Witness sightings of Maitland’s vehicle:
- A man who drove by the Dutchburn house between 11:30 pm and 12:30 am on March 19-20 said the car’s headlights may have been on. He said he didn’t anyone in or around the car.
- A second man who drove by between midnight and 12:30 am on Saturday, March 20, recalled seeing a turn signal flashing on the car.
- Around 4:00 am on Saturday, March 20, a former boyfriend of Brianna’s drove past the scene after a night of partying. He thought he recognized the vehicle, but he didn’t see anyone in or around it.
- The next morning, some passing motorists found the scene odd enough that they stopped and took pictures of it. One of the photographers reported some loose change, a water bottle, and a bracelet/necklace on the ground next to the car.
Prior to disappearance: On Brianna’s 17th birthday, she moved out of her parents’ home against their wishes. Her mother, Kellie, said there were no serious stresses at home. Rather, she said, Brianna wanted more independence. The teen also wanted to be closer to a group of friends who lived 15 miles away and attended a different high school. Brianna enrolled at her friends’ high school, but her living arrangements were unstable. By the end of February 2004, she had dropped out of school, moved in with Jillian, and joined a high-school-equivalency program.
Three weeks prior to her disappearance, Brianna was physically attacked at a party by Keallie Lacross. The motive for the attack is unclear. Brianna suffered a broken nose and concussion; she later filed charges against Lacross. The complaint was dropped three weeks after Brianna disappeared. Police said that Lacross was cleared in Brianna’s disappearance.
On the day Brianna disappeared, she and her mother were shopping together around mid-day. As they waited to check out, Kellie said, something outside the store caught Brianna’s attention. She told her mother she would be right back and left the store. Kellie completed her purchase and met Brianna in the parking lot. She said during the drive to Jillian Stout’s home, Brianna seemed shaken and agitated. Kellie, not wanting to pry, did not ask what had happened and dropped her off at Jillian’s home. This was the last time Kellie Maitland ever saw her daughter.
Search efforts and investigation: The Vermont State Police, who led the official investigation for the first months after Brianna’s disappearance were skeptical that foul play was involved. They processed Brianna’s car for evidence on March 30. It was later concluded that foul play was the probable cause of Maitland’s disappearance.
In March 2016, on the case’s 12th anniversary, investigators revealed to a local TV station they had recovered DNA Samples from the car Brianna was driving when she vanished.