April 8, 2004
America's Most Wanted Producers Decline To Profile Missing Woman Case Seventeen Magazine To Publish Story
By Gary E. Lindsley
The television show "America's Most Wanted" will not profile the case of a 21-year-old University of Massachusetts nursing student who disappeared the night of Feb. 9 after she was involved in a one-car crash on Route 112 in Haverhill.
Maura Murray, a resident of Hanson, Mass., and a junior at the UMass Amherst campus, was driving a black 1996 Saturn at about 7 p.m. when she failed to negotiate a sharp left-hand curve and went off the right side of Route 112 after driving past The Weathered Barn.
Jeremy Cohen, managing editor for "America's Most Wanted," says Murray's case will not be profiled on the Fox network's TV show.
"I know about the case," Cohen said. "I have been aware of it since it happened. Unfortunately, we can't do many missing cases at all."
He says the show devotes most of its missing people air time to cases involving children.
"As for adults," Cohen said, "we only do it when there is clear evidence of a crime."
Unless it's clear to the show's producers a crime has been committed, a case won't be aired.
"It's been our experience when we can't tell our viewers what to look for, we don't get a response," he said. "We save our space on our show (for a case) only if it would be successful. Unfortunately, we turn down a lot of cases."
While "America's Most Wanted" officials are refusing to profile Murray's case, Seventeen, a magazine geared toward 12- to 24-year-old girls and young women, is very interested.
Members of the magazine's staff have been interviewing Murray's friends and family members. Elizabeth Dye, a spokeswoman for Seventeen, said there isn't a run date yet for the story, though she feels it should resonate among the magazine's subscribers.
"We feel like other young women can learn from circumstances from everyday situations," Dye said. "We also believe there is a community of readers out there who may be able to help."
She said Seventeen's readers will be able to identify with Murray.
Dye said Seventeen's circulation is 2.1 million readers, but she estimates the magazine actually reaches about 14 million people through its presence in doctors' offices, libraries and other venues.
Fred Murray, Maura's father, has been searching the area where his daughter had her accident every weekend since he was notified. He was not happy with the decision of "America's Most Wanted."
"I am really disappointed," Murray said. "It has an extensive audience and is so influential."
Lt. John Scarinza of New Hampshire State Police Troop F and Haverhill Police Chief Jeffery Williams both have said they, too, would welcome the TV show profiling the case.
If the show did profile Maura's disappearance, he said, maybe someone somewhere in the country, who may have been traveling through the Haverhill, N.H., area the night of Feb. 9, may recall seeing something. Or they may remember having seen her get on a bus somewhere.
"It's just the national scope of it," he said. "Plus, it would put pressure on the state police to call in the FBI. You have two close to one another, geographically and chronologically."
Murray was referring to not only his own daughter, but also to Brianna Maitland, 17, who has been missing since leaving work late the night of March 19. Maitland's car was found with its rear end in an abandoned building about a mile from the Black Lantern in Montgomery, Vt., during the early-morning hours of March 20. She hasn't been seen since.
Murray, though, is happy Seventeen magazine will be profiling his daughter.
"I will take any help I possibly can get," he said. "Everything helps."
Sharon Rausch, whose son, Billy, is Maura's boyfriend, is also glad Seventeen is interested.
"I am thrilled," Rausch said. "This has been in the works for awhile."
She said the magazine had sent an e-mail to Maura Murray's Web site, www.spbowers.com/mauramissing.html, leaving a message they were interested in publishing a piece.
Maura is 5 feet, 7 inches tall, weighs 115 pounds, and has blue-green eyes and curly brown hair. Anyone with information should call the New Hampshire State Police at 603-271-3636, or the Haverhill Police Department at 603-787-2222.