February 21, 2004
Search For Missing Woman Extended To Vermont Nothing Turned Up
By Gary E. Lindsley
The search for a missing 21-year-old Massachusetts woman has shifted in a different direction, at least for the moment.
New Hampshire State Police Troop F Commander Lt. John Scarinza said a search of Maura Murray's computer in her dorm room at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst revealed the missing woman had searched for directions to Burlington, Vt.
Law enforcement authorities, as well as family members and friends, scoured the Burlington, Shelburne, East Burlington and Colchester areas Friday, a day after New Hampshire State Police and New Hampshire Fish and Game suspended a one-day air and ground search in the Haverhill, N.H. area.
Murray, who is a nursing student at UMass at Amherst, left the university Feb. 9 and headed toward New Hampshire in a black 1996 Saturn.
About a mile east of Swiftwater on Route 112, Murray failed to negotiate a sharp left-hand curve and her Saturn went off the right side of the highway, striking a strand of trees.
Butch Atwood, who lives just up the road from the site, offered her help. She refused. However, he went to his house to call police and EMS.
When Haverhill police arrived about seven to nine minutes later, Murray was no where to be found.
Scarinza said police detectives with the UMass campus police department searched Murray's computer and learned she had used the Mapquest Web site to search for directions to Burlington, the day before she had her accident in Haverhill.
"We have contacted Vermont State Police and Burlington police," he said. "They have canvassed all of the hotels. She also had looked at hotel (Web) sites."
Scarinza said color photos of Murray have been distributed in the Burlington area, as well as in Colchester, Shelburne and East Burlington.
"No one has seen her," he said.
Scarinza speculated Murray had searched for directions to Burlington because she and her father, Fred, had been to the area and had hiked Mt. Mansfield and Camel's Hump.
Murray said he and his daughter had hiked Mt. Mansfield and Camel's Hump on Columbus Day weekend and had had a great time.
"She loved it," he said. "Especially the area downtown where you can walk."
The search in Vermont comes a day after police conducted and suspended a combined air and ground search for Murray, the second such search since she disappeared Feb. 9.
Although three dog search teams did not come up with any hits Thursday, a canine team did hit on Murray's scent when a search was conducted Feb. 11.
Scarinza said a canine tracked Murray for about 100 yards east of where Murray's car went off the road.
He said the trail ended in the general area of Atwood's residence.
Because the trail came to an end, Scarinza believes it is an indication she left the area in a car.
"It's very frustrating," he said, referring to the lack of any information coming in about where Murray can be.
Scarinza said UMass campus police have been interviewing people, including professors and students, since Murray left the university for unknown reasons. She'd e-mailed her professors telling them she would be away for a week because of a family emergency.
"It has become pretty clear, she hasn't told anyone she was leaving," he said. "In reality, she had planned to go (to Burlington)."
However, Murray was headed in an entirely different direction, toward Lincoln, N.H., when she had her crash. She was familiar with the New Hampshire White Mountains as well.
Anyone who has seen Murray is asked to contact the New Hampshire State Police at 603-846-3333 or 603-271-1170. People also can call the Haverhill Police Department at 603-787-2222.