Saturday marks the 18th anniversary of Brianna Maitland’s disappearance but Vermont State Police say they have now identified DNA found in the vicinity of Brianna’s car. Maitland was last seen on March 19, 2004, leaving her job at the Black Lantern Inn. She was 17 years old at the time, and now nearly two decades later, the case remains unsolved and police have few answers.
“We consistently go back through this case to see what we have and what we could do more with,” said Detective Sergeant Angela Baker of the VSP. Detective Baker has been leading the investigation for the past five years and says police now identified DNA that was collected on the ground near Brianna’s car, which was found backed up into an abandoned building just a mile away, off of Route 118.
The DNA was compared to 11 ‘persons of interest’ in the case, with no match. “This DNA was collected 18 years ago and there just hasn’t been a hit,” said Detective Baker. “So we had to start thinking of different ways to identify this DNA.”
Investigators sought the help of Texas-based company Othram and genome sequencing, and after months of follow-up work, VSP was able to locate a match. The person is not a suspect in the case as or right now but police say they’ve made contact and the person is being cooperative.
Prior to this new development, Brianna’s father Bruce Maitland shared his thoughts on the case. “It’s a bizarre thing not knowing it really, the chances of knowing to decrease every single day. And then you have to kind of deal with the fact that you know, you just know you may never know.”
Bruce recalled Brianna’s free and independent spirit, and while police admit they still need to determine how the DNA got there and if it’s related to Brianna’s disappearance, Detective Baker calls it an important step forward.
“It’s always been a theory, or a possible lead, there’s been very few things we’ve been able to concretely say we know and that’s why its been so baffling for the past 18 years,” said Bruce. “This information we know concretely who’s DNA that is, we’ve positively identified that. I’m confident the right piece of info will come in and we can determine what happened to Brianna.”
“It’s important to note that this doesn’t mean we have identified a suspect,” said Detective Baker. “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.”