The New Hampshire Union Leader

January 19, 2006

Dad fights for documents in disappearance of daughter

By Lorna Coloquhoun

HAVERHILL -- The pile of documents relating to the disappearance of a Massachusetts woman nearly two years ago contains 2,500 pages, and her father wants to take a look at them.

Fred Murray, whose daughter, Maura, vanished from a rural road in Swiftwater in February 2004, was in Grafton County Superior Court yesterday morning, asking a judge to release those documents, a move he believes will help him in his own search.

"We want to take a fresh look and start over," Murray said after a brief court hearing on his request for release of information pertaining to the case. "This gives me my best hope and my only hope. There might be something in there that means something to me that might be the key."

Murray, through his attorney Timothy Ervin, filed last month for an expedited hearing on a motion for injunctive relief regarding information investigators have gathered in the time since Maura Murray vanished without a trace after a car accident on Route 112.

Judge Timothy Vaughn did not issue a decision yesterday.

Citing Supreme Court cases, Ervin said the fact that the case has always been categorized as a missing person, rather than a criminal matter, is significant.

"The state has never characterized this as an ongoing criminal case," Ervin said, and investigators have never given any reason as to why documents cannot be released. "The overriding concern is that she has been missing for two years and there is still no information about what happened."

Assistant Attorney General Daniel Mullen, who was accompanied by Jeff Strelzin, the head of the state's homicide bureau, said the investigation is ongoing and that it "could have criminal overtones."

Disclosure of information, he said, could "interfere with the ongoing investigation" and release of investigative material would make it "impossible to proceed."

Strelzin said after the hearing that divulging information from an investigative file could alert potential suspects about what is going on, which could cause them to flee or hide evidence.

A team of private investigators is taking up the case of the disappearance, and Fred Murray said there is basic information he needs, such as dispatch logs, that would help create a timeline of what happened between the time his daughter was involved in a minor car accident and the time the first police officer arrived at the scene.

"I'm standing here trying to move every stone I can budge," Murray said before leaving the courthouse yesterday. "Maybe I can get a break. I could sure use it."