New search underway in mysterious disappearance of UMass student who vanished in 2004

EASTON, N.H. — Authorities are conducting a ground search in New Hampshire on Wednesday in connection with a UMass-Amherst student who was reported missing in 2004.

A search linked to the mysterious disappearance of Maura Murray is underway in an area off Route 112 in the towns of Landaff and Easton, according to New Hampshire Attorney General John M. Formella and New Hampshire State Police Colonel Nathan Noyes.

Murray’s sister, Julie Murray, told Boston 25′s Bob Ward that her family is hoping the new search will result in a resolution of the case, but that they have learned not to get too hopeful.

“When we get our hopes up too high, the drop-off is pretty low,” said Julie Murray.

RELATED: Maura Murray case entered into FBI crime database

In a statement, Formella and Noyes said, “The search activity is not the result of new information in the case. Instead, it is part of an ongoing investigative process and will consist of a more extensive search surrounding areas that had been previously searched in a more limited fashion.”

Murray, who was 21 at the time of her disappearance, went missing after she left college on Feb. 9, 2004, according to investigators. Around 7:30 p.m. that evening, Murray’s car was involved in what appeared to be a single-car accident on Route 112 in the New Hampshire town of Haverhill.

Julie Murray said the area being searched is about five miles from where Maura’s car was found.

“Whatever the reason, it is giving my family hope that in an 18-year-old case, they’re actively doing ground searches. I could not ask for anything more than that,” said Julie Murray.

Investigators say a person saw and spoke with a woman, believed to be Murray, at the scene of the crash. However, when the police arrived, she was not there.

Numerous searches of the area at and around the accident scene have been conducted by law enforcement authorities and private citizens over the years.

“My biggest fear is that Maura is going to become a file in a cabinet and today proves that that is not the case,” said Julie Murray who also said that a new lead detective was recently assigned to the case, which the family believes is “super encouraging.”

“Because I think a cold case such as Maura’s, with the amount of exposure that it’s had - and kind of dead ends - a fresh set of eyes could be all that we need,” said Julie Murray, while tempering the family’s hopes.

“At this point, there is no such thing as closure but what we can hope for now is that we get some sort of resolution and I hope the efforts today will result in that,” said Julie Murray.

RELATED: NE Unsolved: Family of missing UMass Amherst student Maura Murray still fighting for justice

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is assisting state police with this latest search.

Anyone with information about Murray is asked to call the New Hampshire Cold Case Unit at (603) 223-3648 or email them at Coldcaseunit@dos.nh.gov.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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