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Missing Woman: Maura Murray - NH - 02/09/2004

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Other unresolved missing person cases

1:26 PM, Oct 31, 2011 

Everyday people disappear. From teen runaways to those who don't want to be found to crime victims, according to one estimate, 2,300 people go missing each day in the U.S.


Maura Murray

Maura Murray, 21, went missing on Feb. 9, 2004, from a New Hampshire highway. She was involved in a solo-vehicle accident but by the time police arrived, Murray was gone as was her backpack and cellphone.

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Maura Murray

Missing since February 9, 2004

It's Sunday evening, 7 PM on February 8, 2004. The 21-year-old nursing student, Maura Murray, is dropped off by her father at her dorm at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Little does he know just 24 hours later, his daughter will disappear.

Earlier that weekend, everything seemed normal. Saturday starts off as a father-daughter weekend where they spend the day used car shopping and eating out at their favorite local brew house. But late Saturday night, after borrowing his car, Maura gets into a wreck. She's apologetic and he is understanding. They agree to talk Monday night to go over insurance forms.

It's Monday evening on February 9, 2004. After driving 144 miles North to a destination unknown, Maura gets into a second one-car accident. A nearby resident offers Maura help, but she declines asking him not to call 911. Police arrive less than 10 minutes later, but Maura is gone. The car doors are locked and her cell phone and credit cards are missing, but the rest of her belongings are left in the car.

The 24-hour time line before Maura's disappearance is filled with contradictions. One minute she's emailing her long distance boyfriend, while also picking up the insurance forms to go over with her father. But the next minute she's emailing teachers stating there is a death in the family and she is going away for a while. There was no death in the family.

Immediately after the crash, theories surrounding her disappearance abound. Initially, police speculate that Maura is a runaway or suicidal. But her family is resolute — something criminal happened to their daughter that mysterious night.

There have been several possible sightings of Maura. Moments after and nearby the crash site, a local resident says he sees a young person run onto a side dirt road. Another supposed sighting involves a voice mail left on Murray's boyfriend's cell phone 36 hours after the disappearance. The boyfriend is convinced it's Maura sobbing and shivering on the other end. Yet another was at a store in Hillsboro, New Hampshire where a young woman fitting her description is seen with an older man silently mouthing the words, "Help me."

NOTE: Maura Murray is currently classified as an Endangered Missing Adult, and Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Strelzin states, "We don't know if Maura is a victim, but state is treating it as a potential homicide … it may be a missing person's case, but it's being handled as a criminal investigation."

If you have information about Maura Murray, please contact one of the following police departments:

New Hampshire State Police, (800)-852-3411/ (603)-846-3333

University of Massachusetts Police, (413)-545-2121

Haverhill Police Department, (603)-787-2222

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Mystery 2004 New Hampshire disappearance of college student continues to torment family, baffle authorities

The disappearance of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst student is one of the most intriguing among scores of New Hampshire cold cases.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Saturday, February 8, 2014, 3:40 PM


CONCORD, N.H.  -- Ten years ago, Maura Murray packed her car, lied to professors about a death in the family and left Massachusetts. That night, on a rural road in the northern part of New Hampshire, the 21-year-old nursing student crashed her car.


Then she vanished, leaving a tormented family, vexed investigators and a case rife with rumor and innuendo. Lead investigators say there hasn't been a single, credible sighting of her since minutes after her car spun into trees and a snowbank along Route 112 in North Haverhill just before 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 9, 2004.


The disappearance of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst student is one of the most intriguing among scores of New Hampshire cold cases.

"No one knows for sure where Maura is or what happened to her," said Jeffery Strelzin, senior assistant attorney general.


Fred Murray believes his daughter is dead, the victim of a crime. But he wants to keep her case in the public eye in hopes of finally knowing what really happened that night on the threshold of the White Mountain National Forest.


"There's no letting go," said Murray, a medical technician in Bridgeport, Conn. "My daughter wouldn't want me to quit on her. She'd want me to keep trying to find out who grabbed her."


Her father and some investigators believe she just wanted to get away for a few days. It had been a rough stretch for the standout student who had attended - and quickly left - the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. She had recently resolved a criminal matter involving use of a stolen credit card and caused extensive damage to her father's car during a late night crash.


Then there was a mysterious and traumatizing call four days before she disappeared. She was working her security job at UMass-Amherst when the phone rang, and she burst into tears. A supervisor ended up walking her home. The caller - and the subject of the call - remain unknown.


But two days before she vanished, Maura was in good spirits as she and her father shopped for a used car for her and then went out to dinner.


Before she left that Monday, she had already called several lodgings, including one in Bartlett, N.H., that her family regularly visited. In her car were directions to Burlington, Vt., said retired state police Lt. John Healy, who has continued to investigate the disappearance.


Headed east on 112, she lost control of the 1996 Saturn, tagged a tree and spun around so the car was facing west.


A couple who live within sight of the scene called police. Butch Atwood, a school bus driver who lived nearby, told police he stopped by and asked Murray if she wanted him to call police. She said no. Atwood, who has since died, called anyway and appears to be the last person known to have spoken to Maura.


A police report says the windshield was cracked on the driver's side, both air bags deployed and the car was locked. There was a box of wine on the back seat and a strong odor of alcohol.


Healy, one of many investigators who have volunteered countless hours on the case, thinks Maura was the victim of a "crime of opportunity."


"She got into the wrong car. She went to the wrong house," Healy said last week. "One minute she's there, 10 minutes later she's not."

"In Maura's case, we're one step away from thinking alien abduction, it happened so fast," Healy said.


Theories abound that Maura fled, possibly to Canada.


Strelzin said it's unlikely - but not impossible - that the young woman had gone off to start a new life, but he and Healy agree that kind of disappearing takes careful planning, help and resources.


Her father doesn't believe it.


"I don't think she'd put us through this," he said. "She would have called me. I can't imagine her not calling. We were close, you know?"


Murray is frustrated and angry, convinced New Hampshire state police didn't call in the FBI 10 years ago and still won't for fear of exposing their own foibles.


"She was out there helpless," her father said. "Nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. No one to ask for help. I think some local dirt bag grabbed her."


He fought in vain all the way to the New Hampshire Supreme Court to get the investigation's records.


"If I saw the case records, I would know what I have to chase myself," Murray said. "You get frustrated and it gnaws at you. You can't get rid of it."

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