The Patriot Ledger

February 9, 2005

Gone a Year Ago Today - Missing Hanson woman's family prods officials; Treat it as crime, they urge N.H.

By Joe McGee

It was one year ago that Maura Murray of Hanson disappeared in the snowy woods of New Hampshire. Her father and other family members were in New Hampshire today, trying again to get authorities to treat her disappearance as a crime.

Murray, then 22, left her dormitory at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst on Feb. 9, 2004, and traveled to New Hampshire for reasons that are unclear.

That evening her car skidded off the road in Haverhill, N.H., but by the time police arrived she was gone without a trace. There were no footprints left around the snowy scene and only one witness saw Murray for a brief moment. Inside her car there were only a few belongings and bottles of alcohol.

The New Hampshire State Police have labeled Murray a missing person, but her family and others close to her believe she met with foul play. They have asked police to treat her disappearance as a criminal case.

‘‘I just want them to have some ownership of the situation and everything that has evolved over the past 12 months,'' said Murray's boyfriend, Army Lt. Bill Rausch of Oklahoma.

Murray's father, Fred Murray, her brother, Freddie, and her sister, Kathleen, were among those who planned to deliver a written appeal to Gov. John Lynch today asking that he release records pertaining to her case. The group was to then travel to Haverhill to place a missing person poster and ribbon where she was last seen.

Later this evening, friends and family will observe a moment of prayer for Maura during an Ash Wednesday Mass at St. Joseph the Worker Church in Hanson.

Over the past year Murray's mother, Laurie Murray, developed cancer. Murray said she is too ill to travel to New Hampshire today. She said that if she could speak to Gov. Lynch she'd keep her message simple.

‘‘This is definitely foul play and the FBI should be on this and I'm very disappointed that this didn't happen sooner,'' Murray said.

Rausch, Murray's boyfriend, says the family should at least be entitled to copies of police records to prove that everything was handled properly.

Fred Murray filed a records request with the New Hampshire attorney general's office seeking release of all pertinent records. That request was denied.

The Murrays' suspicions of a botched investigation were heightened in October when they began calling numbers listed on Murray's cell phone records from last February. It turned out that the last person she called was Linda Salamone of Wakefield, whose condo in Bartlett, N.H., Murray wanted to rent.

Salamone told The Patriot Ledger in November that she was never interviewed by police. This is one of the details the Murrays want to discuss with police.

‘‘It seems more than a reasonable request,'' Rausch said of the records request.

‘‘They said there is no foul play involved and no leads so I would think there wouldn't be a valid reason why they couldn't be released,'' he said.

New Hampshire State Police investigators handling the case could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The Murrays are encouraging the public to E-mail Lynch this week to ask that officials re-examine the case with the assistance of the FBI. They also request that everyone display a blue ribbon on car antennae, rear view mirrors and homes as a reminder to pray for Maura.