Crime

Murder Victim Calls Husband From Trunk Hours Before Dying

| by Anjali Sareen
Rita MazeRita Maze

Rita Maze, a Montana woman who was kidnapped Sept.6, called her husband from the trunk of her own car -- where she was being held captive -- just hours before her body was found early the next morning.

Maze had been driving to her home in Great Falls after visiting relatives in Helena, Montana. Her family reported her missing on the evening of Sept. 6, and her husband received the call from her at approximately 10:30 p.m.  She told her husband she had been ambushed at a rest stop on Interstate 15. According to NBC News, Maze, who worked at a school as a cook, also told her husband her abductor hit her on the head.

Sheriff Leo C. Dutton of Lewis and Clark County held a news conference in which he disclosed further details. Maze stayed on the phone as long as possible, speaking to both her husband and police. The Spokane County Sheriff's Office tracked her movements through cell towers since she was unaware of her location.

About two hours after her initial call, however, police found her body in the trunk of her black Pontiac Grand Prix. The car was in a parking lot outside of Spokane Washington International Airport.

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Dutton said Maze's death is believed to be a homicide at this point, but no cause of death has been released to the public, reports CNN. Dutton also stated that authorities believe she was killed after having arrived in Spokane.

"There were phone conversations with her, from this office, from the Helena Police Department, just prior to her death," Dutton said. "So we're relatively certain of the time when she became deceased. It's a terrible thing to have happen, but we will work to find out what did happen. We'll cooperate with Spokane County, that's where we believe that the death occurred. But that's got to be confirmed by cell phone records."

According to Dutton, authorities are looking for a "person of interest" and currently suspect that the attack was random.

Maze worked at Morningside Elementary School in Great Falls. Bill Salonen, a former principal, spoke to NBC about her personality. 

"I could really trust that she was really going to take care of kids and build that trust," Salonen said. He also said she "had such a positive presence."

A GoFundMe page has been created for the family.

Sources: CNNNBC News / Photo credit: Shanley Day via GoFundMe​

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