People across the Northwest have been on edge since the brazen daylight abduction and murder of Montana woman Rita Maze. Her story has been all over the news since she disappeared late on Tuesday morning, and the media attention surrounding Rita Maze exploded on Wednesday when her body was found in her vehicle near the Spokane airport.
Following the news that the body of Rita Maze had been discovered in the trunk of her vehicle, the family of the Montana woman came forward with an almost unbelievable and heart-wrenching tale of a phone call she allegedly made after her abduction, which she claimed took place at an I-15 rest area near Wolf Creek, Montana. The 47-year-old Montana woman was heading back to Great Falls from a trip to visit her elderly mother in Helena when she vanished.
According to her family, during her call, which reportedly happened after 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Rita Maze described her horrific abduction ordeal. She claimed that she’d been struck in the head by something or someone and that she believed she was locked in the trunk of her car.
She allegedly described her abductor during that call, telling her husband and daughter that it had been a tall male (at least six-foot-five), dark complected (either African American or Native American), and wearing a hoodie. During the clandestine phone call, a call that the Montana woman allegedly claimed came from the trunk of her vehicle, Rita Maze said her final “I love yous,” and her family never heard from her again.
“She was talking to my Dad and had told him help me, help me, she was in the trunk of her car, she thinks she was hit with something or by someone, she didn’t really see.”
— Tristan Rosauer (@Tristan_Rosauer) September 8, 2016
— Open truth (@carelessverdict) September 8, 2016
Something odd about this story. I'm ruling out the bushy haired stranger.
— Roland Jenkins (@Roland_Jenkins) September 9, 2016
@DatelineNBC Probably accidental suicide..called to say she was kidnapped, then shot herself thinking they would rescue..münchausen mishap
— SerialAtheist (@umSoWutDntCare) September 9, 2016
Only a few short hour later, law enforcement located the missing vehicle of Montana woman Rita Maze near the Spokane Airport. That was at just around 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday.
When Rita Maze’s daughter spoke to law enforcement about her mother’s alleged abduction, she said that the Montana woman, a popular longtime cook at Morningside Elementary school, was incredibly concerned about the gun in her vehicle. Reportedly, it wasn’t unusual for Montana woman Rita Maze to make the drive between Great Falls and Helena (much of it through remote country), and she always made the trip armed. During her call to her family, she allegedly expressed worry that her weapon would be turned against her.
Search warrant shows detectives found a 9mm pistol and magazines in Rita Maze's car. pic.twitter.com/oz54DYcCy5
— Mark Hanrahan (@KREMMark) September 8, 2016
Police reportedly located the vehicle of Rita Maze via pings on her cell phone and through tips from locals who’d seen the car in passing. Before they approached the car, law enforcement called the Montana woman’s cell phone. Reportedly, someone answered the phone, authorities heard gunshots, and then nothing.
Court docs: police called Rita Maze's cell phone and heard gunshots and then nothing. pic.twitter.com/xUP0cYUt4M
— Mark Hanrahan (@KREMMark) September 8, 2016
When investigators, including the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office and FBI, initially reported on the alleged abduction and tragic death of Montana woman Rita Maze, it was widely reported that they had a person of interest in the case. Someone who may have used Rita Maze’s credit card during the time she was allegedly being held against her will. Supposedly, they had an image of the person in question caught on a convenience store surveillance video and promised to release it. But the image was never released, and on Thursday investigators announced they had no person of interest after all.
Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich says they have not ruled out any possible means in which Rita Maze died, that includes kidnapping, homicide, suicide
— Lindsay Nadrich (@KREMLindsay) September 8, 2016
Initially, law enforcement refused to comment on the cause of Rita Maze’s death. On Thursday, it was announced that the Montana woman had died from a single gunshot wound to the chest. Reportedly, that gunshot came from her own gun.
Now, as the New York Daily News reports, investigators into the alleged abduction and death of Montana woman Rita Maze are apparently questioning the previously reported version of events. Indeed, multiple media outlets are now reporting that the story of the Montana woman’s abduction and murder may be unraveling.
— Mikenzie Frost (@MikenzieFrost) September 7, 2016
Apparently, over the course of their detailed investigation, which began after the family reported Rita Maze missing at about 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday (after she didn’t return home and they couldn’t contact her). The investigation resulted in a nationwide search for the Montana woman’s vehicle following her desperate phone call, which came to a head when her body was found in Washington. However, authorities have stopped looking for their person of interest.
According to a medical examiner in the case of Montana woman Rita maze, no cause of death is being ruled out in her death, including suicide.
— KREM 2 NEWS (@KREM2) September 7, 2016
When questioned Thursday regarding whether the public should be questioning the official version of events relayed by Montana woman Rita Maze to her terrified family on Tuesday night, Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich responded, “Yes, you should.”
“We know where the body was located; we know where she started out. What happened in between? Don’t know.”
The Spokane County Sheriff even went so far as to tell the media and the public not to refer to the death of Montana woman Rita Maze a homicide “until we actually find out what is going on.”
That’s a pretty massive deviation from what was being reported on Wednesday. According to authorities, when they found Rita Maze’s car and body, her purse was in the vehicle and her keys were still in the switch.
Despite the fact that authorities are now casting doubt on the Montana woman’s story of abduction and murder, her family, including her 23-year-old daughter Rochelle, refuse to consider that Rita Maze might have killed herself.
— Cowles Montana Media (@CowlesMontana) September 7, 2016
Rochelle, who is getting married next year and who was supposed to go wedding dress shopping with her mother shortly after the Montana woman went missing, said that she believes that the vehicle was staged to make it appear as though her mother took her own life, something Michelle claims her mom would never do.
“I believe they shot her and left the gun and keys in there to make it look like she killed herself. I know she did not.”
While the story told by Rita Maze appears to be in doubt by authorities, they are still investigating her death as a possible homicide and not ruling out any possibilities. Investigators are still reviewing forensic and other evidence in the case of the Montana woman, including looking for fingerprints and DNA in Rita Maze’s car to try to verify (or rule out) that another person was in the vehicle.
[Image via The Maze Family/Facebook]