The New Hampshire Union Leader
December 28, 2005
Father suing for records in 'missing' case
By Lorna Colquhoun
Haverhill -- The father of a woman who disappeared nearly two years ago after a minor car accident is suing several police agencies, as well as the governor, seeking the release of information tied to the investigation, according to court documents filed last week.
Fred Murray, father of Maura Murray, filed the papers last Wednesday in Grafton County Superior Court, charging that state police, Attorney General Kelly Ayotte, Gov. John Lynch, the state Fish and Game Department, Grafton County Attorney Ricardo St. Hillaire, the Grafton County Sheriff's Department and the Hanover Police Department, where the initial 911 call went after the report of the accident in February 2004, have violated the state's Right to Know Law and the federal Freedom of Information Act in not releasing investigative information he has requested in the years since his daughter's disappearance.
Not mentioned in the suit was the Haverhill Police Department, which initially investigated the accident before it was turned over to the state police.
Murray requested an expedited hearing on the lawsuits and it has been scheduled for 11 a.m. Jan. 18 at the Grafton County Superior Court. The documents were filed by the Chelmsford, Mass., law office of Gallant and Ervin.
The puzzling case of Maura Murray began on the night of Feb. 9, 2004, when the 21-year-old Massachusetts student crashed her vehicle on Route 112 in Swiftwater. Between the time a neighbor reported the accident and the arrival of the first officer on the scene a few minutes later, Murray vanished and has not been seen or heard from since then.
In the months that followed, according to the court papers, Fred Murray has requested the records pertaining to the investigation and was denied. Murray, in the court papers, contends that investigators have treated the case as a missing persons case.
Authorities have repeatedly maintained that they do not believe Maura was a victim of foul play," according to the court papers.
Yet, Murray maintains, his requests for the records were denied on the grounds that production called for confidential records created . . . or would constitute an invasion of privacy."
The documents contend that Murray has been assured" that the investigation into his daughter's disappearance is ongoing, but that he has not been made aware of any specific efforts the governmental authorities have taken in pursuing this matter within the past several months."
And, the court papers continue, If the investigation has concluded, (Murray) should be made aware of that fact" and the investigation turned over to him so he can continue to look for information in hopes of finding his daughter."
From the outset, Fred Murray has believed his daughter met with foul play.
The most compelling reason favoring disclosure in this case centers on the fact that Maura could very well still be in danger and disclosure of the information compiled by authorities could help locate her," according to the court papers. Although (investigators) have continued to dispute the notion, Fred Murray's familiarity with his daughter leads him to believe that it is likely that Maura Murray was the victim of foul play and may even still be in danger, rather than she went missing of her own accord."
Murray is requesting items such as accident reports, the inventory of items taken from her car, a copy of her computer hard drive left behind at her University of Massachusetts/Amherst dorm room, documents pertaining to searches, witness statements and the surveillance tape from a liquor store where she made a purchase.
On the first anniversary of his daughter's disappearance, Murray sent a letter to Lynch requesting his help in obtaining information.
The investigative body . . . has followed its astonishing careless go-through-the-motions response with an unnaturally steadfast refusal to communicate on the matter," Murray wrote.
A $40,000 reward is being offered for any information leading to Maura's safe return," according to a Web site being maintained for her at www.mauramurray.com.
The ABC news magazine 20/20 is preparing a segment on the case to be aired Jan. 6, according to the mother of Maura Murray's fiance. According to published reports, Sharon Rausch said she and her son were flown to New York earlier this month to be interviewed for the segment.