April 20, 2004
Residents Dispute Claims They Want Trespassers Arrested
By Gary E. Lindsley
Haverhill, NH -- People living in the area near where a 21-year-old University of Massachusetts at Amherst student went missing dispute police claims they filed complaints regarding the woman's father, relatives and searchers.
Haverhill Police Chief Jeff Williams sent a letter recently to Maura Murray's father, Fred, notifying him that anyone, including Fred, his family, friends, searchers and reporters, would face arrest if they continued trespassing on Haverhill residents' properties.
Maura was traveling east along Route 112 when her black 1996 Saturn failed to negotiate a sharp left-hand curve near The Weathered Barn the night of Feb. 9. She disappeared before police arrived and hasn't been seen since.
Steve Loud lives on Maguire Road, just west of The Weathered Barn. Claims the neighbors living near the accident site had gathered together to file complaints with Haverhill Police were not true, he said.
Chief Williams has refused to say when the complaints were filed as well as how many have been filed.
"The one neighbor wrote the letter saying it was all the neighbors," Loud said Monday. "It's just the people down by the barn."
He said he has told people at the Stage Coach Stop, a convenience store about a mile west of the accident site, to tell anyone wanting to look for Maura they could search his property.
"I said they can park on my land," Loud said. "I will do anything I can to help. We have been all around this hill. We didn't see any tracks."
Another neighbor, John Boutilier, also said he will do anything he can to help find Maura.
"I don't care if they come on our land," Boutilier said. "I don't have any problem with that. I think it's a most stressful situation for (Fred Murray)."
Searching people's properties, he said, certainly isn't going to hurt anyone. "It makes you wonder if someone has something to hide."
Ann Loud of Woodsville, who was visiting Steve Loud on Monday, said if she lived in the area, she would not complain about people searching for Maura.
"That's not how our community is," she said.
Faith Westman, who owns The Weathered Barn and lives across the road from it in a white house, did file a complaint with Haverhill Police about people parking their cars in the parking lot next to The Weathered Barn.
Westman said she also complained about people traipsing on her property.
"After two months, what are they looking for?" she asked. "Have we not covered enough? We really debated about saying something. We really can sympathize with the family."
Every time the police have parked near her barn or searched her property, she said, they have asked permission first to do so.
"The family has never consulted us," Westman said.
In talking about the night of the accident, she said she called it in to police.
Westman said she saw Butch Atwood, a school bus driver who lives about 100 yards east of the accident scene, stop and check on Maura.
She said she saw Maura get out of her vehicle and talk to Atwood. However, once she saw Atwood talking to Maura, she did not continue watching what was going on.
"We never suspected she would disappear," Westman said. "When the police came to our door and asked if she had come in, we were dumbfounded. I can't even imagine losing someone like that. There isn't any closure."