Federal Agents Discover Inaccuracies In Case Of Abducted Montana Woman
Authorities are no longer searching for a person of interest in the abduction and killing of Rita Maze, who was attacked, stuffed into a car trunk, and later found dead.
Federal agents are no longer searching for a suspect in the death of a Montana woman believed to have been abducted before her body was found in the trunk of a car, citing inaccuracies in the case.
Authorities on Wednesday said 47-year-old Rita Maze had managed to call her husband and talk to police from inside the trunk of her abductor's car, but died before she was rescued.
However, "during the course of the investigation, it was discovered that the early indications of a (person of interest) in the case turned out to be inaccurate," a spokesperson for the Salt Lake City division of the FBI told BuzzFeed News.
The Utah field office is currently working with sheriff's officials in Lewis and Clark County on the investigation into the death of Maze, whose body was found in Washington state on Sept 8.
In addition to inaccuracies cited by federal officials, the Spokane County Medical Examiner's Office said in an initial report that Maze's cause of death was still "pending an investigation," a shift from what authorities had called a homicide, according to NBC News.
The local sheriff initially believed it was a random attack.
Maze had been driving home to Great Falls, Montana, when she was reportedly attacked at a rest stop on Interstate 15, Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton said during a press conference on Wednesday, according to NBC News.
Maze had been returning home from visiting family in the state's capital Helena when she was accosted, stuffed into the trunk of a car, and driven to a parking lot near Spokane International Airport in Washington – more than 250 miles away, Dutton said.
From inside the trunk, Maze managed to call her husband and also spoke with a Helena police officer.
The movement caused the signal to fade in and out, but it allowed law enforcement to track her location using signals from local cell towers, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office told NBC News.
Spokane officers said in a statement that they found Maze’s body around 12:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Shanley Day, who met Maze through her daughter, Rochelle, set up a GoFundMe page to alleviate the financial burdens the family of the elementary school cook.
"I figured those close to her have a lot to worry about right now," she said.
BuzzFeed News had reached out to the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office and the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office for more information.