The shocking abduction story surrounding the death of a 47-year-old Montana woman appears to be unraveling after a sheriff said reporters "should" question the kidnapping narrative.
Authorities say they haven't determined whether Rita Maze was abducted in broad daylight near Wolf Creek, Mont., Tuesday morning. Her body was found early Wednesday 350 miles away near Spokane, Wash. Her family told police she called them from the trunk of her car to say she had been kidnapped by a large man in a black hoodie and that she loved them.
But authorities have not ruled her death a homicide, the Spokesman Review in Spokane reported Thursday.
Newly filed court document are also raising questions.
The paper reported that, according to the documents, Maze, a school cook from Great Falls, was in the trunk with a single gunshot wound to the torso. Next to her body authorities found a handgun and two spent casings.
Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich was asked by the paper if news outlets should question Maze’s kidnapping narrative.
“Yes, you should,” he told the paper. “We know where the body was located. We know where she started out. What happened in between? Don’t know.”
The court documents also show that an officer said she called Maze’s cell phone number about 10 p.m. Tuesday night, according to KHQ-TV. Someone answered and the officer heard gunshots, then silence, the station reported.
Knezovich said the case won’t be easy to solve.
He told the Review people should hesitate to call Maze’s death a homicide “until we actually find out what is going on.”
The Spokane Medical Examiner’s Office on Thursday determined Maze died of the bullet wound to her chest but said further investigation was needed to determine whether the death was a homicide.
The FBI said Thursday they do not have a suspect, a day after saying they did.
Maze had gone to Helena, Montana, Monday to visit her ailing mother.
Her daughter insisted her mother was killed after being kidnapped.
“I believe she was abducted, “ Rochelle Maze told the Review. “She did not hit herself, stuff herself in the truck and drive all the way to Spokane and shoot herself.
She said her mother was hysterical when she spoke to her on the phone.
Deputies found the keys in the ignition and her purse in the front seat. They also found blood on the ground near a $20 bill, the paper reported.
“I believe they shot her and left the gun and keys in there to make it look like she killed herself,” Rochelle Maze told the paper. “I know she did not.”