Brianna Maitland: What Happened to Her? Has She Been Found?

Trying to stand on her own feet and get her life back on track, Brianna Maitland moved away from her family but ended up dropping out of high school. Residing with one of her childhood friends, Brianna failed to make it back to her place in 2004 after leaving her place of work. The mysterious case of Brianna Maitland’s disappearance is explored in Investigation Discovery’s ‘Disappeared: Vanished In Vermont.’ Whether it is the events that led to the vanishing of the teenager or the extensive search for her whereabouts, the episode provides us with a detailed account of the case.

Brianna Maitland’s Car Was Discovered The Day After She Was Last Seen

Bruce and Kellie Maitland (née Fisher) welcomed Brianna Alexandra Maitland into the world on October 8, 1986, in Burlington, Vermont. While growing up with her elder brother on her parents’ farm in East Franklin, she trained in jiu-jitsu. For schooling, she went to Missisquoi Valley Union High School, and then during her sophomore year, she was transferred to Enosburg Falls High School in nearby Enosburg Falls. In spite of the atmosphere in the Maitland household being considerably pleasant, Brianna decided to move away from the farm on her 17th birthday in order to gain more independence and be in close proximity with her friends.

Brianna even enrolled in her friends’ high school but she still didn’t have a place of her own. So, as far as living arrangements were concerned, they were quite unstable for her as she kept moving in and out of different friends’ houses. In late February 2004, she made the bold decision to drop out of high school and move in with Jillian Stout, one of her childhood friends, living in Sheldon, Vermont. But she still wanted to complete her education, which is why she enrolled in a GED program. It was reported that she got into a physical fight with a former friend, Keallie Lacross, at a party three weeks before she vanished.

According to Brianna’s father, Bruce, the fight might have ignited due to jealousy over Brianna’s interaction with one of the male peers at the party. A friend of Brianna claimed that she refused to fight Keallie back, despite her martial arts skills, and readily took several hits on her face, which led to her nose getting broken and her head concussed. However, Brianna filed charges against Keallie. On the fateful day of March 19, 2004, Brianna received her GED and in celebration, she and her mother, Kellie, had lunch together. Following their meal, the mother-daughter duo went shopping and ran a few errands.

As per Kellie, Brianna had gone outside for a while as something unknown had caught her attention. They gathered again in the parking lot but the teenager looked distraught and unlike her usual self. Then, Kellie dropped Brianna at Jillian’s residence between 3:30 and 4 pm, after which she left for work at the Black Lantern Inn in a 1985 Oldsmobile sedan and left a note for Jillian informing her that she would return later that evening. At about 11:20 pm on the same night, she completed her shift and left the Black Lantern Inn to get some rest at home before working her second job in St. Albans the next day.

In an unexpected turn of events, on the afternoon of March 20, Brianna’s Oldsmobile was found backed into an abandoned house on Route 118 in Richford, located about a mile away from the Black Lantern Inn. When the police arrived to inspect the scene, they found a couple of Brianna’s paychecks, a water bottle, an unsmoked cigarette, and loose change in and around the car. At the time, it was not known that the vehicle belonged to Brianna Maitland, who had disappeared by the time but was not reported missing by anyone. As the vehicle got towed and taken to a local garage, the police officer at the scene assumed that a drunk driver had abandoned the car.

Even after several days of her disappearance, Brianna was not reported missing. Jillian had spent the weekend away after reading the note left by her roommate and returned home on Monday to find that she was not home. When Brianna still did not return the following day, she contacted her mother, Kellie, and told her about the situation. Then, on March 23, Kellie started inquiring about her daughter among her friends, employers, and others, but none of them had seen or spoken to her over the weekend. Later that same day, she finally reported the 17-year-old teenager missing, and a couple of days later, she gave the authorities her photos. She also confirmed that the abandoned vehicle they found on March 20 was Brianna’s.

Brianna Maitland’s Potential Body and Alleged Killer/s Remains at Large

Considering that Brianna Maitland had left her home previously to lead an independent life, the investigators were doubtful about any foul play involved in her disappearance, at least for the first few months. Despite searching the area surrounding the old Dutchburn house with the help of search dogs, the authorities were not able to find anything. When Brianna’s car was returned to the Maitland family, many of her possessions were still inside the car, including glasses, ATM card, migraine medication, and contact lens case. Given her jiu-jitsu training, her parents believed that multiple people would be involved in their daughter’s abduction.

The Maitland family and the police received various anonymous phone calls and tips in the months after Brianna’s disappearance. One of the earlier tips was that she was being held hostage in a house occupied by two drug dealers from New York — Ramon L. Ryans and Nathaniel Charles Jackson. When the investigators raided the place, they found cocaine and marijuana but not Brianna. Still, Ramon was arrested on drug charges. Moreover, as per some close friends of Brianna, she allegedly tried a few hard drugs, particularly cocaine, and she was acquainted with both dealers. An anonymous woman came forward in late 2004 and claimed that Ramon killed Brianna a week after her disappearance because of some money she had lent him to buy crack.

The anonymous woman implicated that Brianne’s body was dismembered and disposed of on a pig farm by Ramon. However, these claims could not be corroborated by the authorities. To spread the word about Brianne and get more people actively looking for her, the Maitland family came up with a website titled BringBriHome and posted a maximum reward of $20,000 for anyone who brings reliable information about Brianne’s whereabouts. However, the website was active for five years, before becoming inactive around 2009. Throughout the years, law enforcement inspected various connections and looked into different tips, including some potential connections with serial killer Israel Keyes. But he was ruled out after he died by suicide in late December 2012 in Anchorage, Alaska.

In March 2016, the detectives retrieved DNA samples from Brianna’s car and after six years, in March 2022, the police found a match to the DNA sample they found in the car. Although the identity of the individual was not revealed, they claimed that it belonged to one of the 11 people they had tested earlier. The lead investigator of the case told Vermont Biz, “It’s important to note that this doesn’t mean we have identified a suspect. We are continuing our active efforts to investigate every lead associated with this case, and we constantly look for new technological advances to aid in our investigation. The use of genetic genealogy to identify the DNA found 18 years ago is just one example of how detectives continue to track down every potential lead in this case.”

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