The Patriot Ledger

May 3, 2004

Missing 3 months and still no clues: Hanson woman's kin, friends gather

By Chris Nelson

HANSON - Three months after Hanson native Maura Murray vanished in northern New Hampshire, friends and family say they are upset by lack of progress in the case.

The University of Massachusetts-Amherst student vanished after crashing her car on Route 112 in Haverhill, N.H.

Yesterday, friends and family gathered at Whitman-Hanson Regional High School for what they termed a ‘‘circle of hope'' ceremony to rekindle interest in the case.

Other ceremonies were held yesterday at the spot in New Hampshire where Murray vanished after crashing her car, at UMass-Amherst and at military bases in Oklahoma and North Carolina, where her boyfriend and sister are stationed.

At the high school from which Murray graduated in 2000, 75 people crowded into a semicircle around a large, framed portrait of her. Seated to the right of the picture was her grandmother, Ruth Mehrman.

The ceremony was held at the school's track, because Murray was a star athlete.

‘‘It's only fitting to gather on the same track where Maura and her friends spent hours training and running,'' said event organizer Beth Drewniak, mother of Liz Drewniak, 22, a close friend of the missing student.

‘‘I think those of you who know Maura know her giggle, her beautiful smile and, oh, those dimples to die for,'' she said.

Murray's 22nd birthday was Tuesday.

Friends and family said yesterday they are disturbed that there has been no progress on the New Hampshire State Police investigation.

‘‘It seems like the New Hampshire police don't do a ... lot of anything about the investigation,'' said family friend Beverly Kelley.

Kelley, 59, works with Murray's mother, Laurie Murray, at the Samuel Marcus Nursing and Retirement Home in Weymouth.

Maura Murray packed up her belongings in her dorm room on Feb. 9, loaded up her car and abruptly left UMass. She wrecked her car later that night but refused help from a passing motorist. Ten minutes later, police arrived, but Murray was gone.

Blue and pink balloons that were passed out to everyone at yesterday's event were released into the wind at the ceremony's conclusion. They headed north, in the direction of New Hampshire.

Speakers included Tom Zamagni, Murray's seventh- and eight-grade basketball coach, and the Rev. Mark Hannon, pastor of St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church, where Murray was involved in church activities.

After the service, Laurie Murray reflected on her daughter's disappearance. ‘‘It makes no sense. It's like she just, poof, - vanished,'' she said. ‘‘How is that possible? There's not a trace of her.''

She said New Hampshire State Police periodically follow new leads, but there has been no good news to report. ‘‘When I talk to the investigators, they always have leads and follow them, but they always end in a dead-end. It's been almost three months, and I just want my daughter to come home.''