The Strange Details Surrounding Brianna Maitland's Disappearance

As of 2019, the FBI reported that there are 87,500 active missing person cases in the United States. While an overwhelming majority of missing person cases involving minors are attributed to runaways and non-custodial parents, we are still left with a chilling reminder that many of those cases languish in the unsolved bin. For the friends and loved ones of those who vanish without a trace, not having any foreseeable closure can be torturous. We can only hope that one day the truth behind each case will finally come to light.

In what has been widely considered one of the more baffling cases to detectives, the disappearance of Brianna Maitland has been frustrating officials for nearly two decades. Missing since early 2004, according to the Charley Project, 17-year-old Maitland's case as a missing, endangered minor has proven to be a hard one to solve.

As with any missing person case, there are clues left behind. But the circumstances surrounding Maitland's disappearance can be considered more puzzling than most. 

The last sighting of Brianna Maitland

Brianna Maitland didn't have it easy. She had recently moved out of her mother's home and into the home of a close friend. To support herself, Maitland was working two jobs: as a waitress in St. Albans, Vermont, and as a dishwasher in nearby Montgomery. She had dropped out of school but was determined to make a bright future for herself. Despite working two jobs, she had managed to study for and successfully complete her GED. Maitland had remarked to friends that she was planning on attending community college part-time in the fall (via Charley Project).

Maitland was last seen shortly before midnight on March 19, 2004. She was working her dishwashing job at the Black Lantern Inn in Montgomery. Co-workers asked her to join them for a late dinner, but Maitland politely declined their invite, stating she needed to be up early in the morning for her waitressing job.

When she never arrived at the home she shared with her friend, the friend assumed that Maitland had simply gone back to her mother's house. Her friend had no idea that she would not see her Maitland again.

A curious place to leave a car

After not hearing from Maitland for three days, her friend and roommate, Jillian, contacted Maitland's parents. When they reported that they hadn't seen or heard from her since March 19, concern escalated (via Murder Squad). Maitland's mother, Kellie, filed a missing person report (via DNA Solves). Police in Montgomery almost immediately connected the first clue in the case — Maitland's abandoned 1985 Oldsmobile (via Charley Project).

Maitland's car had been reported several days earlier outside of Montgomery, Vermont, in what looked to be a minor accident. It had been off the road and backed into an old barn (via Murder Squad). The car had only suffered minor damage and was still in drivable condition. The car was registered to Maitland's mother so police were able to quickly connect the car they had found days earlier to the newly opened missing person case. 

Police located several clues outside the Oldsmobile. A woman's fleece jacket was laying nearby, which was later proven to not belong to Maitland (via Murder Squad). Not far from the jacket was a broken necklace, an empty plastic water bottle, and some loose change. But it was what was found inside the Oldsmobile that made investigators begin to assume foul play.

What did Brianna Maitland leave behind?

When police probed the inside of Brianna Maitland's car, they found crucial pieces of evidence that could indicate several possible scenarios. On the passenger seat were two of Maitland's uncashed paychecks (via Charley Project). Upon further inspection, police retrieved Maitland's driver's license, her contact lenses, medication for her migraine headaches, and several pieces of her clothing (via Murder Squad).

Now a full-fledged investigation was underway. Police began conducting interviews of Maitland's co-workers, friends, and family members. But the leads weren't strong, and many of them were based purely on speculation. Rumors of Maitland being involved with drug activity seemed to be the most promising one at first. This, however, is a connection that her family steadfastly denies, maintaining that she had no serious involvement in drugs (via Stories of the Unsolved). As this was their strongest lead in the case, investigators initially leaped on it, possibly because they had received an anonymous tip that the missing girl was being held captive by two local drug dealers, according to Murder Squad. When police raided the suspected dealers' home in Berkshire, Vermont, however, there was no trace of Maitland there.

An apparent dead end

According to Murder Squad, the two dealers were Nathaniel Charles Jackson and Ramon Ryans. Both admitted that they knew Maitland and Jackson maintained that he had not seen her since a week before she disappeared from Montgomery. Both men were arrested for drug activity and booked on charges. Rumors began to spread that one of the men offered to cut a deal with prosecutors for a lighter sentence in exchange for information about Maitland's whereabouts. But as of today, nothing has ever come of this lead, and neither Jackson nor Ryan were ever charged with any crime related to Maitland.

Brianna Maitland remains missing. She would be 34 years old today. In 2020, police announced they were working with Othram, a Houston-based company that specializes in forensic testing and investigation. They hope to discover new leads in a case that has had them frustrated for nearly twenty years (via Vermont Biz).