February 10, 2005
Maura Murray Remembered A Year After Disappearance - Fears Center On Abduction
By Gary E. Lindsley
News photographers and reporters practically outnumbered family and friends of Maura Murray as they marked the one-year anniversary of her disappearance with a ceremony Wednesday.
Kathleen Murray, Maura's sister, wiped away tears and buried her head in the shoulder of her fiance, Tim Carpenter, as a small boom box played the song, "For Maura."
Others choked back tears or dabbed at them with tissues as traffic passed by on Route 112, the site where Maura Murray was involved in a minor one-car accident the night of Feb. 9, 2004.
She hasn't been seen or heard from since. Her credit card, cell phone and bank account have not been used in the year since she disappeared, according to her family.
Maura, a nursing student, left her dorm at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst around 4 p.m. Feb. 9 and is believed to have been heading to Bartlett, N.H., according to family members. She and her father, Fred Murray, had stayed there numerous times during their jaunts to the White Mountains.
As Maura's 1996 black Saturn rounded a sharp left curve just past The Weathered Barn on Route 112 at about 7:30 p.m., she lost control of the car and it went off the right side of the highway, striking a tree.
Butch Atwood, a First Student bus driver who lives just up the road from the accident scene, stopped his school bus by the Saturn to see if he could help. Murray was still in her car.
"I saw no blood," he said at the time. "She was cold and she was shivering. I told her I was going to call the police."
Maura, according to Atwood, told him not to because she had already called the AAA.
Atwood said he invited the woman to wait at his house nearby, but she declined. He said he then went home to call 911.
After about seven to nine minutes, he said he looked out and saw a Haverhill police cruiser by the Saturn. A short time later, Haverhill Police Department's Sgt. Cecil Smith notified Atwood that when he arrived at the crash scene, Murray was no longer with her car.
On Wednesday Maura's father placed a new picture and bow on the tree where Maura had her accident.
There also was a prayer given by the Rev. Lyn McIntosh. The song, "For Maura," was written and sung by Maura's friend Jenny Brooks.
"I have been up here more than I have cared to," Kathleen Murray said. "It's very hard. It's not getting any easier."
During the early stages after her sister's disappearance, she visited the area to help search for Maura.
"There is no question she was going to Bartlett," Fred Murray said after the observance Wednesday afternoon. "It is our favorite place. Bartlett is our home operation up here."
He said he and Maura used to visit the area four to five times a year and would hike area mountains in the region.
"We've been going there ever since I changed her diapers in the woods," Fred Murray said.
Although he is hopeful his daughter is still alive, he said he is also realistic. He said he has visited the area nearly every weekend since Maura's accident and disappearance to search every nook and cranny.
"I have gone into some spots (that were) really scary," he said. "Every time I feel a little lighter and younger when I come out of the woods and I don't find anything."
Although he doesn't believe it actually happened, Fred is hopeful someone picked Maura up after the accident and took her to a bus station across the Connecticut River to catch a bus.
"I wish we didn't have to do this," he said. "I hope it's the last time I have to do this."