The New Hampshire Union Leader

February 10, 2005

Missing Girl Remembered by Family on Anniversary

By Lorna Coloquhoun

HAVERHILL -- A year after her perplexing disappearance following a car accident, the family and friends of Maura Murray gathered at the corner where she was last seen to remember her and to pray that they would one day know what happened to her.

"Right now, I'm taking care of business -- stuff I have to do," said her father, Fred, yesterday. "I'll think about it later."

It was a year ago last night that Maura Murray, a nursing student at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, crashed her car on the corner of Route 112 in Swiftwater. In between the time neighbors called police and their subsequent arrival some 10 minutes later, the young woman vanished and has not been seen or heard from in the past year.

About a dozen family and friends gathered at that corner for a brief ceremony to remember her and to tend to the tree that has become a small shrine to her, tied with a blue ribbon and pictures of her.

Fred Murray cut away a faded blue ribbon and tattered photos of his daughter, replacing them with an enormous blue bow, its ribbons trailing to the ground, and new photos.

The Rev. Lyn O. McIntosh of Lisbon conducted a prayer circle.

"I am convinced there will be an answer," she said. "We are driven by hope and strengthened by everyone around us. I offer a prayer for Maura and for all of us."

Fred Murray, who has been critical of the investigation into his daughter's disappearance, recounted the accident and pondered how Maura could have started walking down the road. He mused about how police did not travel down the road to look for her that cold, dark night.

A search was mounted for her in the days that followed, and again last July. At that time, there was two feet of snow on the ground and searchers found no evidence that she went into the woods.

The investigation found that Murray had packed up her dorm room and headed north to the White Mountains, where she and her father had hiked over the years. She had also received a phone call at work in the days preceding her disappearance that was troubling enough to her that she had to be escorted back to her room. She e-mailed her professors to say that she would be leaving campus for about a week.

Prior to yesterday's ceremony, Fred Murray met with Gov. John Lynch for several minutes at the State House, urging him to use his influence to release records from the investigation.

"I asked, failing that, to have it declared a criminal investigation rather than a missing person investigation, and, if he didn't want to do that, I asked him to accept the offer of the FBI to come in," Murray said after the meeting with Lynch.

Lynch made no commitments on the specific requests.

"I told Mr. Murray that I will look into the situation, and I promised to get back to him as soon as I possibly can and that's how we left it," Lynch said.

State Police Lt. John Scarinza said yesterday that the investigation, which has already logged thousands of hours, continues.

"We are actively working on the case everyday," he said. "There is not a day that goes by when it's not on the forefront of our thoughts."

Murray is not impressed. He said he's heard nothing from the investigators in six months. "I am the investigation. That's why I want the information," he said.

Scarinza said his troopers talk with Murray on a regular basis when new leads appear. Murray's claim he hadn't heard from them in six months is "absolutely inaccurate," he said.

Scarinza did add that investigators have not "been able to develop leads that would explain what happened."

A song written by a friend of Maura's was played during yesterday's remembrance. After the notes faded, Fred Murray leaned his head against the tree bearing his daughter's photo.

"I wish you were here," he said. "I didn't want to have to do this -- I sure hope this is the last time we do this."

As the ceremony was breaking up, the family of Lorne Boulet of Bristol pulled off the road. Boulet, 23, was last seen July 29, 2001, at his home in Chichester and has not been seen since.

"We wanted to share our emotion with the Murrays," said Louise Holmburg of Bristol. "Lorne's been gone for three and a half years."

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