The Boston Channel
November 18/19, 2004
Father Keeps Hope Alive In Search For Missing Daughter
Maura Murray Last Seen Feb. 9, 2004
BOSTON -- It's a parent's nightmare come true for a South Shore father.
NewsCenter 5's Liz Brunner reported that Fred Murray's daughter, Maura, has been missing since February. The college student disappeared after making a car trip to rural New Hampshire.
Murray said the police are now treating the case as if it's cold, so he's taken it upon himself to keep hope alive.
Every other weekend for nine months Fred Murray has made the trip from Connecticut to a New Hampshire motel that has become the home base in his search for his missing daughter.
"No one else is looking and the case would just die and be forgotten. I've got to do it. I owe it to my daughter," said Murray.
Maura Murray, 22, an athlete and honors student at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, was last seen the evening of Feb. 9, 2004, after her car crashed in Haverhill, N.H. Neighbors called the police. One offered the young woman help, but she refused. Within minutes she vanished.
"The people who called in to the police said my daughter was sitting one to two minutes before the cops came, which means all the police had to do was go down the street and grab her," said Murray.
Alcohol was found in the car. Murray said if his daughter was drinking, she probably panicked, afraid she'd get in trouble.
"So she starts walking away," said Murray.
Murray believes his daughter became a victim of foul play.
"They know it was a young girl, they don't call ahead. They let her walk into the national forest. They let a young girl in 12-degree temperatures walk away," he said.
With that, Fred Murray's anger grows. He accused police of waiting too long when they were just minutes away from finding his daughter.
In their search for Maura Murray, New Hampshire State police say the immediate area was searched the night of the accident and neighbors were interviewed. But a ground and air search wasn't conducted until a day and a half later. Murray says that was too late.
"They can't answer why they didn't drive two minutes down the road. It took 38 hours to start the investigation," Murray said.
No footprints were ever found in the woods. Search dogs tracked the woman's scent from the scene of the accident to the next corner.
"Which is right in front of the last guy who spoke to my daughter, and also right in front of the house of the last person to have actually seen my daughter," said Murray.
That person initially told police he didn't see anything the night of Maura Murray's disappearance. Three months later he came forward with different information: He'd seen someone who fit Maura Murray's description walking about five miles away. Murray wonders if the man knows more.
Murray said the police have already made up their minds.
"Suicide, hypothermia or runaway. Back and forth, one to three, nothing about number four -- a bad guy," said Murray.
The day Maura Murray left UMass, she e-mailed her professors that she had a family problem and would be gone for about a week. Rumors flew that she wanted to disappear. Murray thinks she came to New Hampshire, a frequent family destination, to sort something out.
"If she was upset and wanted to get away to find peace, it would be here. It doesn't matter what brought her here to this point. Once she got here, something happened," he said. "My daughter is right there on that poster. If that person came out of the poster, she'd walk right out of it smiling. We were like buddies. I want my buddy back. That's what I'm doing here."
New Hampshire State Police told NewsCenter 5 that they've logged thousands of hours investigating Maura Murray's disappearance, including a number of ground and air searches. The case is active, but at this point, they say there's no reason to believe a crime was committed.
Anyone who has seen Maura or has information about her disappearance is asked to contact either the New Hampshire State Police at (603) 271-3636, or visit www.spbowers.com/mauramissing.html.