On February 9th, 2004, a 21-year-old college student mysteriously vanished on Route 112 in Haverhill, New Hampshire. Thirteen years later, detectives are still left with unanswered questions and the family continues to push law enforcement to go on with the investigations.
Maura Murray was a nursing student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She had an on-campus security job and stayed in touch with her sister and father regularly. In the afternoon on the day of her disappearance, she emailed her work supervisor to say she would be away for the week due to a death in the family, although in reality no one had died. She then left campus, crashed her car into a snowbank, and disappeared from the scene of the accident.
So, what happened to Maura Murray? So far, investigations have led to more questions than answers. This is one of the most mysterious disappearances that has taken place in New Hampshire. None of the pieces of the puzzle seem to fit together and investigators have only had limited evidence to work with.
Maura’s behavior leading up to her disappearance makes it clear that, for unknown reasons, she was planning to leave town for a few days. It’s unclear whether her intention was simply to leave and return or to never be found again.
On February 5th, 2004, Maura reportedly spoke on the phone with her sister during a shift at work. After the phone call, she broke down into tears, stating that the reason was her sister. Her supervisor talked with her and walked her back to her dorm room around 1 A.M.
On February 7th, she spent the day with her father, Fred Murray. The two went car shopping together and went out to dinner with one of Maura’s friends. She then borrowed her dad’s car to go to a party on campus. She left the party around 2:30 A.M. and crashed the car on her way to see him at his motel, causing around $10,000 in damage to the car.
Early that morning, Fred Murray found out that the insurance would cover the damage and talked with Maura about the accident report forms she should fill out from the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
In the early hours of February 9th, Maura searched for driving directions to the Berkshires and Burlington, Vermont via Mapquest. At 1 P.M. the same day, she sent an email to her boyfriend saying that she didn’t feel like talking but would call him later. She also made a phone call to ask about renting a condo in Bartlett, New Hampshire.
At 1:24 P.M., she emailed her supervisor to say that there was a death in the family and she would be leaving town for a few days. At 2:05, she called a phone number to find information about booking hotels in Stowe, Vermont and at 2:18 she called her boyfriend to tell him they would talk later.
At 3:30 P.M., she left the university in her black Saturn sedan. Ten minutes later, she withdrew $280 from an ATM and went to a nearby liquor store where she bought several different types of alcohol, including vodka and a box of Franzia wine. In both places, she was alone.
A few hours later, a resident of Woodsville, New Hampshire heard a loud sound outside and saw that a car had crashed into a snowbank. The resident called the police to report the accident. Another neighbor pulled up to the car and saw that the woman inside was shivering from the cold. She reportedly begged him not to call the police.
At 7:46 P.M., a Haverhill police officer arrived at the scene, but didn’t see anyone around or in the vehicle. The car was damaged to the point that it couldn’t be driven and the officer found an empty beer bottle and the damaged box of wine in the back seat.
The officer also found personal items, a book about mountain climbing in the White Mountains, and driving directions, but did not find debit cards, credit cards, or Maura’s cell phone. Later on, when police searched Maura’s dorm room, they found that most of her stuff had been packed into boxes and her room decorations had been taken down.
The next day Maura Murray was considered to be a missing person and police issued a Be On The Lookout report.
On February 11th, the first search for Maura began. Fred Murray and the New Hampshire Fish and Game worked together to try and find out where Maura could have gone. The dogs were only able to track her scent up to 100 yards east of the crash site before they lost it. Police suspected that she had left this area in another car. Later that day, police stated that they believed her intention was to disappear or commit suicide. Knowing Maura well, the family said that this was very unlikely.
One week later, Vermont police officers became involved in the investigation and three days after that the FBI became involved. The New Hampshire Fish and Game began their second search, using a helicopter with thermal imaging technology and cadaver dogs. The only thing found during this search was a pair of ripped women’s underwear on a trail in the woods, but DNA tests concluded that these did not belong to Maura.
Strangely, at the end of 2004, a man gave Fred Murray an old, stained knife. He said that it had belonged to his brother, who had a criminal past and was acting strangely after Maura’s disappearance. Reportedly, the man’s brother lived less than a mile from the crash site.
In the following years, Fred Murray continued to work with police as well as private investigators in the search for his daughter. In October 2006, a large, 2-day search was conducted. The dogs seemed to pick up Maura’s scent in the closet of a nearby house, suggesting that Maura had been there. Carpet samples were sent to a lab for testing, but the results were never released.
In July 2008 yet another search was conducted that didn’t turn up any substantial evidence or leads.
In past years, there have been a few Maura Murray sightings. Most of them have been concentrated in Quebec, Canada, but it has not been confirmed if these sightings were actually of Maura or just another woman with similar features.
Although 13 years have passed, many people still continue to search for Maura and the answer to her disappearance. What happened to Maura Murray? While we still don’t know, the cooperation and help of the general public can make all the difference. It’s always better to say something than keep quiet because even the smallest tips can help.
If you have any information about this case or other unsolved disappearances in New Hampshire, please contact the New Hampshire Division of State Police at (800)852-3411 or (603)846-3333, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact the Haverhill Police Department at (603)787-2222.