One of the more dramatic and controversial moments in the 2017 Oxygen Media series, The Disappearance of Maura Murray, occurred when Maura’s father, Fred Murray, was asked by journalist Maggie Freleng whether he had ever sexually assaulted Maura.
Both Maggie Freleng (MF) and Art Roderick (AR) asserted during a subsequent True Crime Garage (TCG) interview that Fred himself had neither heard nor ever been told about these rumors of sexual assault, which have been floating around the internet for nearly a decade.
While Freleng said she was “taken off guard” by Fred’s answer, Roderick said he “kinda knew the answers [Fred] was going to give us.”
Here’s a transcript excerpted from the TCG interview posted on You Tube 25 October 2017.
TCG: What was the hardest question you [Freleng and Roderick] had to ask during the interview process and to whom?
MF: …definitely asking Fred if he sexually assaulted Maura… We also thought he knew about that rumor. We were both even surprised at [Fred’s] reaction.
MF: I thought [Fred] was ready for that question. Turns out he had never actually heard that before. And it was pretty difficult because I was very caught off guard. I just thought [Fred] was going to go, “absolutely not, that never happened, you know, that scumbag James Renner…” and I was caught off guard by [Fred’s] reaction.
AR: But his reaction was completely genuine. I mean, there was no doubt. I mean, he had never heard that before.
AR: And [Fred] was completely taken aback. That was probably by far the toughest question. And his reaction, I thought, was completely genuine. And he was really upset about it.
MF: This is a question that needed to be addressed because people would not stop talking about it, and it was out there. And he had never been asked that.
TCG: While we’re on the subject of talking to Fred Murray… Art, one thing I noticed throughout the documentary was that when you are asking questions, you are very busy with pen and paper, jotting down notes, taking notes, and when you spoke with Fred, there was a much different approach. You put the pen and paper aside and you were really focusing in on his face and his eyes. We all know that Fred’s an animated character and that he talks with his hands. What was your strategy there?
AR: We probably sat down with [Fred]… three or four times for different interviews and this was going to be the toughest one. And I just wanted to look at his reaction to all this. And I kinda knew what he was going to say anyway.
AR: In this particular case, we kinda knew the answers he was going to give us to these questions, and, you know, if something different had came out, then of course I would have written something down. But, you know, I kinda knew [how] he was going to come across and I just wanted to, to look him in the eye, and, and, you know, get his true reaction and I think that’s exactly what we got.
On 15 March 2016, at least several months before the interview with Fred Murray, John Smith posted on his blog a statement apparently written by Fred, a short excerpt of which appears here:
I’ve recently been shown two very early comments by the author of a blog about my daughter, Maura, that represent the most insidious and reprehensible tactic that I can possibly imagine. This is from November 3, 2011, “she came to his single bed motel at 2:30 in the morning,” and was reinforced on March 19, 2012, with “sleeps in the bed.” Again, the bed reference is singular, indicating two people in one bed. The insinuation here is one hundred percent clear and could be interpreted as an obvious ploy by the blogger to create a scenario in which the reader can be influenced and encouraged to envision something unspeakably horrible. To contrive an allusion to the worst thing that a person could possibly be accused of in the history of mankind is beyond despicable. Is the blogger trying to create a sinister character to embellish the “narrative” he hopes to peddle? Is he attempting to shape his “story” toward the direction he wants it to go for promotional purpose?
The above statement of 15 March 2016 was followed on 13 October 2017, also on John Smith’s blog, by “Fred Murray’s Updated Statement.” The updated statement, published by Smith six days after the “tough question” interview aired, omits any reference to the “something unspeakably horrible” that was mentioned in the original statement.
(The actual text of the “Updated Statement” contains the date-header “June 30, 2016,” yet the WordPress date stamp reads “October 13, 2017.”)
Did Freleng, Roderick, and Texas Crew Productions do all their homework? Did Art Roderick “put the pen and paper aside” because he was scouting for law enforcement? Was Art watching for Fred’s “true reaction?” What, exactly, did Art mean when he used the words, “true reaction?” Was Art expecting Fred to express a false reaction beneath which Art could determine a true reaction?
Fred said he turned down James Renner’s request(s) for an interview because of his, Fred’s, opinion of a previous book by Renner (presumably, Amy: My Search for Her Killer or The Serial Killer’s Apprentice). It appears Fred may not have spent as much time reading Renner’s more recent book, True Crime Addict, a book about Fred’s own daughter – at least not the part Fred seemed so upset about and, apparently, unacquainted with.