Into The Shadows: The Case of Maggie Shetland

It was February 10th, 1998 when the phone rang. When Diane Liscom answered it, Maggie Shetland’s voice was on the other end of the line, and it came across joyfully bubbly like champagne. It was consistent in terms of the woman’s character. Maggie’s words were concerning in that the call was meant to reassure her friend, Diane in a casual way, that she would be leaving for a little while but that her friend shouldn’t worry.

Maggie promised she would be back.

When Diane hung the phone up with “Mags” as her friends called her, she didn’t realize she would be the last person to speak with her.

Nearly twenty years later, there are no leads in what happened to Maggie Shetland.

To say the case has gone cold would imply there were leads to begin with. The phone call was the last contact anyone ever had with Maggie. Her bank account and credit cards have never been used. There were no additional calls to her family, or other friends. Even her car vanished.

She was the young woman who disappeared without a trace.

Occasionally, the police thought they had a lead. Someone remembered seeing Maggie briefly in a gas station, but when the security cameras were reviewed, Maggie did not appear in any of the footage.  Over the years there were other sightings of the woman, and sometimes of the car, but they never came to fruition.

In dark corners and hushed voices, some people said they were certain Maggie made the call under threat by a killer. That way maybe police wouldn’t look for her body for some time. Others said that Maggie may have simply walked away from her life in order to start a new one. Still other people would propose perhaps Maggie had simply driven off a cliff accidentally, or maybe on purpose.

But none of this is consistent with what we knew about Maggie. There was no nervousness in Maggie’s voice when she spoke to her friend. If she were under threat, would there not be some wavering, some pause – that indicated something was wrong?

Maggie was well loved by her family and friends. Every year she was one of the prime organizers for the local hospital cancer telethon.  She ran races for various charities and had an active social life. She was unmarried, but her marital status didn’t seem to be of concern to her according to family and friends.  If she ever considered suicide, she never appeared depressed.

Her friend Diane was under suspicion by police for years, and willingly agreed to a lie detector test and past it.  An old friend since childhood, Diane also participated in searches for Maggie in woods, and across various cities, and scoured the neighborhood with photos of Maggie in the hopes that someone would remember something.

Diane also willingly worked with the police turning over whatever information she had about her friend. One of the pieces she provided to the officers was an answering machine tape that accidentally recorded the last conversation between Diane and Maggie.

But what Diane hadn’t realized was that there was something else on that tape. Maggie’s voice came across clear and calm as Diane reported to the police. However, when the tape was reviewed recently, an officer with a keen ear noticed other sounds: the sound of wooden wheels turning and horse’s hoofs trotting, and words spoken in Latin in the background. A linguistic expert was consulted, and the man stated he thought it sounded like a marketplace where people were negotiating price for the purchase of fruits, vegetables, dishes, and pottery.

For this reason, police officers investigated a local Amish town.  When asked if the Amish people spoke Latin, the elders insisted they did not. Furthermore, no evidence of Maggie Shetland was ever found in the community.

Recently, some information came forward from an anonymous source. It was something that a friend recalled Maggie said to her as a joke. She referred to her car as a Shadow Car that allowed Maggie to be transported to other places.

I am a reporter, and I rely on facts. For this reason, I needed evidence.

In the last year of Maggie Shetland’s life, there were four separate occurrences where a mystery woman saved people in the area: a teenager who nearly drowned in a river almost 100 miles away from where Maggie lived; a two-year-old boy who was found walking down a street at 4 AM in -25 degree Celsius temperatures; and an unconscious woman was pulled from her burning house by another woman as reported by firefighters and police at the scene.

When I reviewed the witness reports of the heroic woman in each incident, several witnesses described her with dark brown hair, dark brown eyes, possibly Hispanic, standing around 5 feet 5 inches, and with a muscular build. In reviewing photographs – this is very similar to Maggie.

The final incident, Maggie couldn’t walk away from. It occurred on December 19th, 1997 when a woman pulled a man from his fire-engulfed single engine plane when it crashed in a field in -35 degree Fahrenheit temperatures. When the man woke a week later, doctors informed him that he was very lucky. The police found the plane the next day and it was a blackened carcass. If the woman hadn’t pulled him out he would have died from the fire, hypothermia, or his wounds.

The man insisted on meeting his savior and pleaded to local media outlets to run his story. To no avail, the woman would not come forward. But one particular newspaper wanted the big story. They offered a Security Officer at the hospital $300 to give them the tapes from that night. The guard did it.

Shortly after, the newspaper found an image of the woman on the video and also found her license plate. It wasn’t long before they tracked it back to Maggie Shetland and the newspaper released it to the world. The man who crashed his plane and wanted to meet the woman that saved him, found out her identity the same way as other residents in the city: through the newspaper.

Two months later, Maggie was missing. Did Maggie Shetland decide to walk away from it all, annoyed by the ever-present light that was cast in her direction by an unethical newspaper? Was she suffering from depression and decided to end it all?  Or after helping so many, was she randomly caught by a person who meant to harm her?

What would you say if I told you the first three incidents all happened in the same night, in different cities, and were hundreds of miles away from each other? Your next question to me would be: if the hero woman was Maggie Shetland, how is that possible?

I would answer you and say, that it’s not. It’s impossible for a single person to save multiple lives when the victims are located hundreds of miles away from each other – unless of course, she’s Superwoman.

For those of you who think Maggie Shetland may have committed suicide because the newspaper released her name, here’s one last piece of information for you. After her name was released to the public, Maggie voluntarily went to visit the man in the hospital. The man tearfully, through cracked words, apologized for what the newspaper had done to her, and said that he only ever wanted to thank her in person.

Maggie with a wave of her hand, and bright smile, consoled him and said that it wasn’t his fault and said quite emphatically, it’s not a big deal. Before she left, she wished him a speedy recovery and announced that she would see him again as she was a volunteer for the hospital cancer telethon.

Maybe Maggie Shetland never left?

Perhaps, she is the the quiet woman, who travels along the road in her Shadow Car saving lives amongst us.

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