SOCO Magazine

April 2011

6 of 7

At 4 p.m. (or earlier) Maura sent an e-mall to some of her professors and her boss, in which she wrote that she would be our of town for several days due to a death in her family. There was, however, no death in her family. A dorm mate of Maura's reported seeing her leave campus between 3:30 and 4 p.m.

After she left the campus, Maura's first stop was at an ATM, where she withdrew $280 from her bank account. According to Helena Murray's account, the surveillance footage from the ATM shows Maura was alone. Maura's second stop was at a Iiquor store, where she purchased a box of Franzia red wine and bottles of Kahlua, Bailey's, and vodka.

The official search for Maura began on Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2004. Maura's family, the Rausch family, police, and New Hampshire Fish and Game personnel combed the area of Route 112 where her car was found and BOLO (Be on the lookout) messages were sent to neighboring towns. Billy Rausch also told police about the mysterious phone call he received while going through security at the airport on his way to New Hampshire.

Well into the process of interviewing potential witnesses, Maura's father recalled, New Hampshire State Police said that Maura was reportedly spotted four miles down the road shortly after her accident. A man reportedly saw Maura between 8 and 8:30 p.m. The person believed to be her was wearing jeans, a dark coat, and a light-colored hood.

"They accept this is true. She was seen down there. All they had to do was go around the corner and grab her," her father cried.

A police dog was given a pair of Maura's gloves to search for her scent. The dog tracked her scent 100 yards east of where her vehicle was found. Police believe this suggests she was picked up by a passing vehicle.

While Delker can't comment on specific details about the case, he was able to provide more insight into the investigation of Maura's disappearance than the New Hampshire State Police were able to.

In response to Maura's father's concerns that people in the area weren't interviewed by police right away, Delker said that isn't true from what he remembers. "Police spoke to a number of people early on. In some missing person cases police don't get involved right away. (In this case) police were involved fairly early on," Delker said.

There doesn't seem to be anything suspicious about the first state police officer to respond to the scene of Maura's accident. Delker said, echoing Belanger's statements. "From my understanding of the case, there wasn't anything out of the ordinary. Police took appropriate steps to try and locate her quickly," Delker said.

While Maura is still classified as a missing person, Delker said, her case is also included on the Cold Case Unit's list of unsolved homicides.

"It isn't classified as a homicide. (But) if they suspect foul play in a missing-person case it's included on the Cold Case (unsolved homicide) list," Delker said. "The investigation developed information that raised a question as to whether Maura Murray disappeared as a result of foul play."

Delker added that it isn't beyond the realm of possibility that she wandered off and her body hasn't been found yet. He said whenever the Cold Case Unit receives a legitimate tip on this case, it follows up.

"Since the inception of the Cold Case Unit in December 2009, we have received a number of tips about this case. Some we've been able to follow up on and others we're still in the process of evaluating," Delker said.

O'Connell and his team of experts have come to their own conclusions about Maura's disappearance. O'Connell met Fred Murray through a friend while doing investigative work on another missing person case.

O'Connell's team of investigators includes Anne Marie Myers, director of the Molly Bish Foundation, forensic anthropologist, and member of the Boston medical examiners' office; Craig Ackley, a retired FBI agent formerly in charge of the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit and an expert in criminal behavior; Daniel Parkka, a retired Massachusetts police officer who did a reconstruction of the accident scene; and Carla Meyers, a retired New Hampshire attorney.

"Fred was all alone. That was two and a half years ago. I had been following the case anyway," O'Connell recalled. "It was obvious to me Maura was not a runaway and not a candidate for suicide. I reviewed all the information about Maura's case -- what went on the week before, the weeks and months after the search. I reviewed all the media attention. I was able to collect facts and information."

On Nov. 20, 2010, O'Connell and his ream came to a conclusion about what they believe really happened to Maura on Feb. 9, 2004.

"The search for Maura in Haverhill conclusion is something very bad happened to Maura right at her car. She didn't run away, she didn't commit suicide," O'Connell said. "She was taken against her will. Sometime shorty thereafter she was killed."

O'Connell added that even if Maura got into a passing vehicle, as police suggested, and even if it was of her own free will, he feels strongly that she was abducted after that.

"People don't just disappear. We know our children, what they will do and would not do," O'Connell said. "The car is registered to a UMass student, it's in the middle of nowhere- think foul play, somebody grabbed her. Just don't rush to the conclusion that this was an everyday run-of-the-mill motor vehicle accident."