Family of missing UMass Amherst Student Maura Murray seeks permanent marker

HAVERHILL, New Hampshire — One of the cases I have been asked most often about is the disappearance of UMass Nursing student Maura Murray.

On Feb. 9, 2004, Maura disappeared after a car accident on Route 112 in Haverhill, New Hampshire.

Earlier in the day, Maura abruptly left her dorm at UMass Amherst and drove her car to New Hampshire without telling anyone her plans.

No evidence about what happened to Maura Murray after Feb. 9, 2004 has ever publicly surfaced.

Over the last 16 years, Maura’s case has been featured in books, TV shows, documentaries, podcasts and more.

The actual site where Maura vanished is marked only by a blue ribbon tied to a tree branch.

As you might imagine, the site is sacred for Maura’s family.

And, thanks to the intense publicity surrounding Maura’s case, it is an area that total strangers frequently visit.

Recently Maura’s family was told the tree holding the blue ribbon may be cut down.

So, Maura’s family is pushing to have an official state marker placed on the site.

Julie Murray, Maura’s sister, collected more than 3500 signatures from people who want the site marked.

Only 20 signatures are needed.

On Friday, I was in Concord, New Hampshire at the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources Office where Julie, her father, Fred, and her brother, Kurtis, dropped off a lengthy application packet for the historic marker.

“It’s not just New Hampshire, it’s not just new England. It’s all over the world, and that’s represented here in this packet,” Julie Murray told me. “Now we have a small army behind us. And we are just building up steam.”

Fred Murray, Maura’s Dad told me the marker is essential to his family.

“When the trees go, and they will, there will be nothing left. We need something there to hang on to. That’s all we have left,” Fred said. “This is our sister, daughter, and we can’t let her go. We’re not letting her go. She’s going to be remembered.”

Kurtis Murray told me he has spent half his life without his sister.

“We don’t have ashes or a gravesite, or anything to go visit and memorialize her. So, this is the closest thing we have right now,” Kurtis told me.

New Hampshire State Rep. Debra DeSimone (Republican, District-14) is helping the Murray family with the application.

Rep. DeSimone said the facts of the case, and the Murray family’s long wait for justice, inspired her to help.

“Sixteen years. I can’t imagine, 16 seconds, it is horrifying,” DeSimone said. “They have not been able to put this to rest.”

Julie Murray hopes a permanent marker will keep Maura’s memory alive while the search for Maura continues.

“People are already coming by, all throughout the year, to stop by and see what the accident scene looks like. And to look at the ribbon tree. But now, we’ll have a historical marker to know exactly what happened in that location,” Julie Murray said.

This weekend, a private group will return to Haverhill, New Hampshire, searching specific sites, looking for Maura Murray.

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