The Caledonian-Record

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Fred Murray Appeals To Governor Benson Says Police Failed His Daughter

By Gary E. Lindsley

The father of a missing 22-year-old University of Massachusetts at Amherst nursing student is appealing to Gov. Craig Benson to urge New Hampshire State Police to call in the FBI for help in finding his daughter.

Maura Murray has been missing since she was involved in a minor one-car accident the evening of Feb. 9 after her black 1996 Saturn failed to negotiate a sharp left-hand curve on Route 112 in Haverhill.

"The finest resource in the world is available and you, sir, should direct Lieutenant John Scarinza and Troop F to accept its offer," Fred Murray said in his letter. "There are corollary cases in Vermont also and this entire situation begs for central coordination and investigation by an agency which is not bound by the confines of configuration of Grafton County and the Connecticut River." Scarinza is the commander of Troop F, which is based in Twin Mountain.

Murray also was referring to Brianna Maitland, 17, of Sheldon, Vt., who disappeared after she left work late the night of March 19. Her car was found partially ensconced in an abandoned building about one mile from the Black Lantern Inn in Montgomery where she worked.

Murray noted the FBI offered its assistance during the week of his daughter's disappearance. However, state police declined the offer. Scarinza said the FBI was involved in background searches and gathering information in Massachusetts. He has said the state police have enough resources to conduct an investigation into Maura's disappearance.

Besides asking Benson to direct the state police to call in the FBI, Murray also has claimed state police and Haverhill police had been grossly negligent because a cruiser was not dispatched east along Route 112 to help find his daughter after her accident.

He said police arrived within minutes after Maura was last seen by an eyewitness. "This means that when the police reached the scene, Maura could have been no further than a couple of hundred yards up the road around the first corner walking away," Murray said in his letter.

Police, including Sgt. Cecil Smith of the Haverhill Police Department, were told the driver of the car was a young woman about 20 years old. "There was an empty beer bottle found in the car and in addition, there was a spider hole in the driver's side of the windshield indicating that she had struck her head at impact," Murray's letter reads.

Murray said police should have called ahead to the Woodstock Police Department so officers from that community could have driven west to intercept Maura on the dark, desolate highway.

"She was figuratively and nearly literally right there readily available to be rescued and saved from whatever fate has befallen her," Murray said in his letter. "All that the police had to do was to expend minimal mental and physical effort."

If they had done so, Murray said, Maura would be safe with him today. "Unfortunately, the police neglected to make even the most basic effort to find her and I remain without her now, and perhaps, forever," Murray's letter continued. "The onus of this irresponsible and possibly fatal lack of action lies not only with the North Haverhill force, but also with the New Hampshire State Police who responded to the 911 calls from the neighbors as well."

Another witness is believed to have spotted Maura, who is a track star and runner, about four to five miles east of the accident scene running toward Woodstock. "I get nearly physically sick when I wake up each morning and the thought of how really little effort it would have taken to rescue my daughter automatically flashes through my mind," Murray said in his letter.

In addition to sending the letter to Benson, Murray also sent copies of it to New Hampshire Attorney General Peter Heed, state police Col. Frederick Booth, and U.S. Sen. John Sununu and Judd Gregg. Alicia Preston, Benson's press secretary, said Benson had not received the letter as of late Tuesday afternoon.

However, Murray said according to tracking records on the U.S. Postal Service Web site, Benson, Heed, Booth, Sununu and Gregg's offices received the letters Monday morning. "The young women in the northern region of your state are not safe and it is clearly imperative that you act decisively before you lose another," Murray stated in his letter. "Deep within themselves, your citizens are nervously apprehensive and anxiously awaiting your response to this threat." Booth could not be reached for comment Tuesday. And Simon Brown, chief of the attorney general's criminal bureau, said he was not aware of Murray's letter.