Family of missing UMass student Maura Murray seeks permanent marker

HAVERHILL, N.H. — The disappearance of UMass Student Maura Murray is steeped in mystery.

Sixteen years ago, on February 9, 2004, Maura vanished after getting into a car accident and refusing help on Route 112 in Haverhill, New Hampshire.

Earlier in the day, Maura unexpectedly left UMass Amherst and drove north, possibly intending to reach Bartlett, New Hampshire.

To this day, no one knows what ultimately happened to Maura Murray. The spot where Maura was last seen is sacred ground for her family.

And now, Maura’s family is launching a campaign, the Blue Ribbon Campaign, to place a permanent historical marker at the site where Maura vanished.

“We don’t have any ashes to spread. We don’t have a grave to visit,” Maura’s sister, Julie Murray told me. “Visitors don’t have anywhere to honor Maura. My family has nowhere but this location where she was last seen alive. So, we want to memorialize her and honor her in this spot.”

Shortly after Maura’s case began, her father, Fred Murray, placed a blue ribbon on a tree.

But recently, the N.H. house passed a bill that would have taken down Maura’s ribbon and other roadside memorials. The effort was tabled when it reached the state senate.

And now, Julie Murray tells me, she is hearing that a landowner might cut down the actual tree that holds Maura’s ribbon.

That’s what sparked the idea for the Blue Ribbon Campaign.

Maura Murray’s family is launching a petition to have an historical marker placed at the site where Maura was last seen.

Over the last sixteen years, Maura’s case has drawn attention from people all around the world, thanks to a seemingly endless stream of websites, books, TV shows and podcasts.

Julie tells me thousands of people, strangers, have visited the site to try to solve Maura’s mystery.

She believes a permanent historical marker would be a perfect way to honor Maura’s memory and remind people that Maura is still out there, somewhere.

“People are going to go up there if there is a historical marker or not,” Julie told me. “This will just help galvanize people that do go up there and continue to fight to find answers for where my little sister is.”

To sign the petition, or to learn more about the effort, the family has set up a website.

Already 1,000 people from 48 states and 18 countries have signed Maura’s Blue Ribbon Petition.

“We’re not stopping. We’re not going away. And so, this historical marker will further our case, further the cause, to keep Maura’s story alive,” Julie Murray said.