WCAX Investigates: New details on Brianna Maitland's disappearan - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

WCAX Investigates: New details on Brianna Maitland's disappearance

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The last place anyone saw Brianna Maitland was at the Montgomery restaurant where she worked. Last year, the Black Lantern Inn shut its doors, but the mysterious case of the Franklin County teen's disappearance remains very much open.

Faded flowers and tattered photographs-- scattered pieces of an aging memorial along Route 118.

"It's like a hole inside of your heart," said Shauna LaBelle, Brianna's friend.

Saturday marks 12 years since Brianna Maitland vanished.

"Day and night you wonder instead of having some kind of closure," LaBelle said.

The Sheldon teenager's family moved away, but they never stopped pushing for answers.

"Closure is kind of a funny word because I don't know if there is ever closure," Bruce Maitland said.

Bruce Maitland does not believe his daughter is alive. As time passes, he becomes less optimistic anyone will be held accountable.

"We've worked this case to death," Vt. State Police Maj. Glenn Hall said.

Brianna's disappearance still haunts detectives like Hall. He says the clues just don't add up.

"This is an unusual case when a 17-year-old girl goes missing on a Friday night in a rural Vermont town for no apparent reason and is never to be heard from again," Hall said. "It doesn't happen every day."

March 19, 2004: Brianna finished her shift at the Black Lantern Inn. She left work and was never seen again.

The next day, drivers snapped photos of a 1985 Oldsmobile backed into a farmhouse less than 2 miles away. The car was registered to Brianna's mom. But no one made the connection for nearly a week. In fact, days passed before anyone realized Brianna was missing. She didn't live with her parents and her roommate was away.

"What we don't know is whether she met someone she knew or whether she came across someone that she didn't know and what the circumstances were," Hall said.

Eyewitnesses put Brianna's abandoned car at the farmhouse an hour and a half after she left the Black Lantern Inn. Police say it's a very narrow timeline for Brianna's night to take a grim turn.

"We are fairly confident that whatever happened, happened very quickly," Hall said.

Loose change, a water bottle and an unsmoked cigarette circled her car. Were those signs of a struggle? Police can't be sure. Inside, Brianna left two uncashed paychecks. And now, police reveal they have DNA evidence from the car, too.

"That physical evidence could potentially connect a suspect or person that was there that night to that scene," Hall said.

Initially, Brianna was portrayed as a runaway with a drug problem.

"We have continued to be skeptical that this could be a case involving foul play," Vt. State Police Capt. Bruce Lang said in June 2004.

The theory never sat well with her dad.

"People that initially did the investigation, in my opinion, completely dropped the ball," Bruce Maitland said. "It's easy for people to feel safer about their kids if it were only the bad kids. It's a very safe kind of escape for them that it isn't going to happen to my child."

Brianna had two jobs and was working on her GED. Hall investigated tips of drug abuse, parties and overdoses, but believes most of those stories were exaggerated.

"There's just no evidence of that, and while there's a lot of talk about that, we have to deal with facts and the facts don't back that up," he said.

Glimmers of hope peppered the case, too. One search turned up old jeans in Brianna's size, but no DNA. A surveillance tape from an Atlantic City casino surfaced showing a woman who looked like Brianna. Friends said the mannerisms matched.

"But I didn't feel within my heart is was Bri," LaBelle said.

Police now say their investigation points to foul play. Tips still trickle in, but no solid leads.

"The only thing that we have is hope," LaBelle said.

Loved ones who refuse to give up until they bring Brianna home.

For years, the Maitland family has offered up to $20,000 for information about Brianna. That reward money runs out this year. In 2017 it will be donated to charities for missing kids.

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