Abducted Montana woman who called family from car trunk died of gunshot wound

A Montana woman who called her husband and daughter from the trunk of her own car after being abducted from a rest stop was killed by a gunshot wound, officials said Thursday.

Rita Maze, of Great Falls, died of a single gunshot wound to the chest and abdomen, according to the Great Falls Tribune. The manner of her death remains under investigation, and no arrests have been made in her killing.

Maze, an elementary school cook who was driving back from visiting family in Helena, called her husband and daughter just before 10:30 p.m. Tuesday and told them a big man in a black hoodie had hit her over the head and put her in the trunk of the car after she'd stopped at a rest stop near Wolf Creek, about 50 miles south of her home. She had last talked to her husband about 11 hours earlier, and they believe she was attacked shortly after that conversation, the Tribune reported.

Maze was hysterical and difficult to understand when she called after the abduction, Rochelle Maze told the Tribune about her mother.

"She traveled with a gun, and she knew he had her gun, and she was terrified," Maze said. "He kept her in the trunk for 12 hours."

Bob and Rochelle Maze had police on another line as they talked to Rita Maze, trying to get enough information from her so she could be found. The newspaper reported that after about 10 minutes, during which the connection faded in and out, the phone went dead.

Law enforcement used “pings” from Maze’s cell phone to locate her car in a parking lot west of Spokane, Washington, the following day. The 47-year-old wife and mother was dead in the trunk.

"I told her that I loved her," Rochelle Maze told the Tribune through tears. "That's the last thing she heard."

The newspaper reported that investigators confirmed they have a person of interest in the Maze’s slaying. Because interstate travel was involved in the abduction and murder, the FBI is working with Montana and Washington investigators to solve the case.

Maze’s family is planning a candlelight vigil in her memory for Saturday. Besides her daughter and husband, she is also survived by a son and two granddaughters.

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