April 14, 2004
Family, Friends Warned About Trespassing - Missing Woman
By Gary E. Lindsley
HAVERHILL, NH - The investigation into the disappearance of 21-year-old University of Massachusetts nursing student Maura Murray has encountered an odd twist.
Fred Murray, Maura's father, has been warned that he, other family members, friends and canine search teams face possible arrest if they trespass on private property in an area surrounding the site of Maura's accident.
Maura, a Hanson, Mass., resident and junior at the UMass Amherst campus, disappeared after she was involved in a one-car accident the night of Feb. 9 on Route 112 in Haverhill, about a mile east of Swiftwater. Fred Murray received a letter, dated April 2, from Haverhill Police Chief Jeff Williams warning against trespassing.
Williams states in his letter his department has received a written request from area residents complaining about repeated trespassing and parking problems on their properties.
"While they are sympathetic with the cause to find Maura, the right to quiet enjoyment of their personal property has been repeatedly and blatantly disregarded to the point that they now must insist that absolutely no one has permission to trespass on their properties," Williams wrote Murray.
The property owners, according to Williams, are specifically excluding the following from their parking lots and properties: Murray family members, friends and relatives of Maura Murray; volunteer searchers and canine handlers; private investigators; members of the press; and anyone else seeking clues or searching for Maura Murray.
"The Haverhill Police Department will honor their wishes to remove unwanted vehicles and/or ask trespassers to leave immediately," Williams wrote in his letter. "Repeat offenders will be arrested." Thank you for your understanding and cooperation in this matter." Sharon Rausch, whose son, Billy, is Maura's boyfriend, was flabbergasted when she learned about the letter.
"I am amazed!" Rausch exclaimed. "He gets a written note, not a phone call, that he will be arrested. It's callous. I think it's callous to put something like this in writing."
Murray said if residents living in the area of Maura's accident have been offended by people searching for his daughter, he is certainly sorry. "I have not tried to cause any problems," he said.
However, Murray believes the true intent of Williams' letter is police are trying to discourage any independent searches for Maura. He also believes it is an attempt to reduce the amount of publicity Maura's disappearance has been receiving. "We have all the interviews we have wanted to do," he said. "I think it's an overreaction on the part of the police department."
If people are upset because of the search for his daughter, though, Murray said he will personally apologize to them. It's much to do about nothing," he said. "We are not worried. We will continue to act responsibly and look for my daughter."
Williams, when contacted Tuesday, would not say when the complaints were filed nor would he divulge how many were submitted to the police department.
The past several weeks of police reports from his department have not indicated there were any trespassing complaints in the area of Maura's accident. Williams said none were noted because he didn't want the people's names known.
"They have been through enough," he said, referring to property owners. "If people are caught on people's properties they will be asked to leave. We will follow the law."
In addition to trespassing, he said people have been blocking vehicles in private driveways. As law enforcers, Williams said police are forced to protect property owners.
"If my daughter was missing, I wouldn't be happy until she was found," he said. "I understand their frustration. Hopefully, we will get to a successful conclusion where Maura is alive."
When asked if he would contact Los Angeles, Calif., psychic profiler Carla Baron regarding any information she may have regarding the case, Williams said, "We don't deal directly with psychics. We deal in evidence."
He did say, though, if she has information regarding Maura, his department will follow up on it.
Baron has claimed she believes Maura "is no longer with us" and may have fallen victim to someone who has killed other women. She also has information about the person's description, vehicle he drives and area where she may be found.