The Patriot Ledger
August 7, 2007
Reward offered in missing woman case
By Karen Goulart
HANSON - If anyone knows what happened to Maura Murray on a frigid February night in New Hampshire nearly four years ago, they aren’t talking.
Relatives of the Hanson native and a national organization devoted to helping families find missing persons are hoping that money might loosen some lips.
The national group Let’s Bring Them Home is offering a $75,000 reward ‘‘for the recovery of Maura Murray and the arrest and conviction of those responsible for her disappearance.’’
In February 2004, Murray, a student at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, told her professors that she needed to deal with a family emergency. After going to her dorm room and packing belongings, she drove to New Hampshire. She had not told anyone what her destination was.
On Feb. 9, her car went off the road and hit a snowbank on Route 112 in Haverhill, N.H. Murray was nowhere to be found when police arrived.
Authorities consider her a missing person, but private investigators working on the case think she may have been abducted or killed.
Let’s Bring Them Home spokeswoman LaDonna Meredith said members of the Murray family contacted the group about nine months ago.
The nonprofit organization, based in Rogers, Ark., assists families of missing persons through public-relations work and is a clearinghouse of information about educational and support groups.
A picture of Maura Murray and information about her disappearance have been posted on the organization’s Web site. And now, so is a notice advertising a $75,000 reward, good until Dec. 31.
‘‘Looking at the facts in Maura’s case, we thought in order to generate tips we would need to offer a significant reward,’’ Meredith said. ‘‘Historically, when you offer a reward of that size, someone who knows something will talk.’’
Anyone with information is asked to call a toll-free ‘‘no cops’’ tip line.
‘‘It’s not answered by law enforcement. It’s just an answering service encouraging the person to leave a detailed message,’’ Meredith said. ‘‘The success rate with that - when someone does know something, something like this is attractive to them - nine times out of 10 people are going to call the number.’’
Meredith said phones rang constantly on Monday. Many were media calls, but some involved possible tips, she said.
Fred Murray continues to seek and follow leads in his daughter’s disappearance. He recently appealed, for a second time, a New Hampshire Superior Court ruling denying the release of police records about the case. He is thankful that Let’s Bring Them Home is offering the reward and hopes that it will prompt someone to talk.
Murray said any good citizen who had information would already have come forward. A person on the wrong side of the law might be afraid to talk, but the promise of money could change that, he said.
‘‘The reward is a good idea. I’m glad they’ve come forward with this,’’ Murray said. ‘‘It can only help. It’s kind of a play on human nature. It acts as an influence.’’
Murray said notice of the reward has appeared in Haverhill, N.H.-area newspapers. Meredith and Let’s Bring Them Home volunteers plan to visit the town in the fall, and he will be in town soon - as he often is - to hand out fliers.
And there is always the power of small-town gossip.
‘‘The grapevine there is a powerful thing,’’ Murray said. ‘‘The case is a general topic of conversation and the rumors fly. I’ve chased a million false leads, but I don’t mind hearing them. I’ll chase them all.’’
Information about $75,000 reward
Let's Bring Them Home, a national organization for families of missing persons, is offering a $75,000 reward for the recovery of Maura Murray and the arrest and conviction of anyone who may be responsible for her disappearance.
Anyone with information can call this toll-free, ‘‘no cops’’ number and leave an anonymous message: 1-866-479-LBTH (5284).
More information is available on the organization’s Web site, letsbringthemhome.org.
Karen Goulart may be reached at email@example.com.