HAVERHILL, N.H. — The disappearance of UMass Amherst student Maura Murray from a rural New Hampshire road 17 years ago is one of the most haunting cases I have ever covered.
The last known sighting of Maura Murray took place at about 7:30 p.m. on February 9, 2004. That’s when a school bus driver who lived on Route 112 in Haverhill, N.H. saw Maura’s crashed car, ran outside and offered the stranded Maura help.
The bus driver told police that Maura waved him off, saying she had already called AAA. The bus driver went home and called police. Fifteen minutes later police found Maura’s car all locked up and facing the opposite way she had been driving. Maura was gone.
To this day no one knows what happened next or why Maura was even in New Hampshire to begin with.
Over 17 years Maura Murray’s family has struggled to get answers. But they are not giving up. In fact, the Murray family is ramping up its efforts to find Maura.
Today I spoke with Maura’s sister, Julie Murray, over Zoom.
“Something is going to shake loose, I know it. I can feel it,” Julie said. “I think we are just missing a few pieces to the puzzle. I think there is somebody out there who may know something, may not even know that they know something.”
On the day Maura vanished, she unexpectedly left the UMass Amherst campus, reportedly emailing professors that there was a death in the family and that she needed time off.
There was no death in the family. Instead, Maura packed a bag and drove north for reasons that are still not known. On the way north, Maura withdrew most of her money from an off-campus ATM and later stopped to buy some alcohol.
That’s about all that is known.
Julie Murray said an investigative dog tracked Maura’s scent about 100 meters away from her crashed car but then lost the scent. Julie and her family believe that is a vital clue.
“I believe she was met with foul play. I believe she probably accepted a ride from someone who took advantage of her because she has not reached out to anyone in my family for 17 years.”
That story of Maura Murray has been told in books, websites, podcasts and documentaries. It appears there is no end to interest in the case.
Maura’s family meanwhile has been extremely active in pursuing new leads and organizing searches. The family is also petitioning the State of New Hampshire to place a permanent historical marker at the spot on Route 112 where Maura vanished because so many people travel to the site.
All of it is being done to help find Maura Murray. And on this day, especially, the urge to bring Maura home is never stronger.
“We’re hopeful because of the support of the community and the outreach, and the sense of solidarity and support that we get,” Julie Murray said. “But it’s also another year where we don’t get to have Maura.”
If you have any information about what happened to Maura Murray, contact the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office.