February 13, 2004
Family Members, Fiance Seek Help In Finding Woman
By Gary E. Lindsley
Fred Murray has issued a plea to his 21-year-old daughter to contact him so they can work together on straightening out what is troubling her.
Murray met with reporters in Bethlehem Thursday night after he and family members scoured parts of New Hampshire from Haverhill to Conway and Bethlehem for his daughter, Maura.
"Maura, this is me ... like always, we will solve this," he said in a plea to his daughter through the media.
Maura, who is 5 feet, 7 inches tall and weighs about 120 pounds, was involved in a one-car accident on Wild Ammonoosuc Road about 7 p.m. Monday night.
When officers arrived at the scene, they found an abandoned black 1996 Saturn bearing Massachusetts plates.
Police determined the car belonged to Maura Murray and searched the area, but were unable to turn up anything.
Witnesses who saw the accident told police they had seen a lone woman. They also said it didn't appear the woman had been injured in the accident. When they asked if she needed help or the police, she reportedly said, "No." She left the scene before police and EMS arrived.
Police said Maura may be suicidal and headed toward the Kancamagus Highway area.
Fred Murray said he doesn't understand what prompted his daughter to leave the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, where she is a nursing student, to drive to New Hampshire.
He said it's very unusual for her just to take off. He said he had seen her Sunday afternoon and didn't suspect anything was wrong.
"I don't know exactly what you think is the matter," Murray said, again pleading to his daughter. "It isn't anything that can't be easily solved."
Murray did say Maura was upset about something that had happened over the weekend. He also said whatever it was wasn't a big deal.
Shivering in a light coat as he spoke about his daughter, Murray said he didn't know she was missing until another one of his children, Kathleen, called him Tuesday from Maura's apartment.
Haverhill police officers, he said, had called Maura's home. He made the trip to Haverhill, N.H., in the middle of the night.
Joining Murray in speaking with reporters in Bethlehem Thursday night was Bill Rausch, who is a second lieutenant with C Battery, 119th Field Artillery at Fort Sill, Lawton, Okla.
Rausch said he flew out first thing Wednesday morning. When asked how he is connected to Maura, he said, "Well, her father didn't know this, but we are engaged to be engaged."
Rausch said they have been dating for several years. He also said he had spoken to Maura Sunday and as recently as Monday morning. She did not seem to be upset about anything when he spoke to her. "Everything seemed fine," he said.
While he was at the airport waiting to catch a flight out of Oklahoma, Rausch said he received a call on his cell phone in which all he heard was someone breathing. The call, he said, was traced to a calling card.
"We have talked to the chief," he said, referring to Haverhill Police Chief Jeffery Williams, "and he said they have no leads. They have stopped the search."
That bothers both Murray and Rausch. They have been told police are waiting for another lead. "Our concern," Murray said, "is getting the word out from one police department to another police department. In the meantime, we are trying to spread the word."
And that doesn't mean just law enforcement agencies in New Hampshire. They both believe Vermont and New Hampshire police agencies should be working together on this.
"That community lies right on the border," he said, referring to Haverhill. "Vermont could be helping out."
When Murray was asked why Maura had driven up to New Hampshire and may be headed toward the Kancamagus Highway area, he said the family had been visiting the area for several years to camp. "It's very familiar," he said.
Rausch and Murray spent Wednesday and Thursday handing out dozens of flyers with a picture of Maura and information describing her.
They are asking anyone who has seen Maura to contact the New Hampshire State Police at 603-846-3333 or 603-271-1170. People can also call the Haverhill Police Department at 603-787-2222.
Rausch and family members plan to extend their search into Vermont Friday.