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The Patriot Ledger
February 10, 2005

Butch Atwood was the last person reported to have seen Maura alive. He offered her a ride to his home up the road where his wife and mother were that night. Atwood says Maura refused his help but he called police anyway.

Maura was gone when a police officer arrived. There were no footprints or any other markers to show where she was headed.

Atwood said he is tired of having his name associated with the case. He said reporters have continually questioned him and taken undesirable photographs that may lead some to believe he was a suspect. Police, however, said they questioned Atwood as a matter of routine but never considered him a suspect.

‘‘I'm irritated beyond irritation,'' Atwood said. ‘‘I only tried to help her. It hurts.''

A former Taunton, Mass. police officer, Atwood and his wife moved to New Hampshire in 1984. Because of his police background, Atwood said he has always been kind to stranded motorists.

The Caledonian-Record
February 10, 2005

Butch Atwood, a First Student bus driver who lives just up the road from the accident scene, stopped his school bus by the Saturn to see if he could help. Murray was still in her car.

"I saw no blood," he said at the time. "She was cold and she was shivering. I told her I was going to call the police."

Maura, according to Atwood, told him not to because she had already called the AAA.

Atwood said he invited the woman to wait at his house nearby, but she declined. He said he then went home to call 911.

After about seven to nine minutes, he said he looked out and saw a Haverhill police cruiser by the Saturn. A short time later, Haverhill Police Department's Sgt. Cecil Smith notified Atwood that when he arrived at the crash scene, Murray was no longer with her car.

Steve Huff's Crime Blog
July 21, 2005

The next time she was seen was in this tiny valley town (Haverhill, New Hampshire), by Butch Atwood, a 58-year-old local school bus driver who passed her car as it sat in the snowbank. He said he stopped and asked if she needed help. She declined. He drove the 100 yards to his house and called the police. When they arrived, she was gone…

The next time anyone saw Maura Murray was on that icy road in Haverhill, New Hampshire. It was about 7 p.m. when Butch Atwood asked the young woman if she needed help.

In the 10 minutes between Atwood driving 100 yards to his home and the police arriving at the scene, Maura Murray vanished.

The Patriot Ledger
February 8, 2006

Shamshack, -who says missing property often gets more attention than a missing person, - wants to interview those who were last in contact with Murray, including college friends, relatives and Butch Atwood, a bus driver who was the last to see her.

Atwood, who has since moved to Florida, was driving by in a bus that night and offered Murray help. He said she refused his help, saying she would call for roadside assistance with her cell phone even though there is no coverage in the area.

Atwood told New Hampshire newspapers that he went back to his home, about 100 yards from the accident scene, and called 911. Police arrived minutes later, but Murray had vanished.

Atwood said he saw other cars go by while he was calling for help, but that it was too dark to tell their makes or models.

Worldnet Daily
March 18, 2006

Maura Murray * Within a few minutes, a school bus driven by Butch Atwood stopped alongside Murray’s vehicle. Atwood, who told reporters he is a former police officer, asked Murray if she was okay and if she wanted him to alert local police. Murray, according to Atwood, said that she was fine and that she had already used her cell phone to call AAA for assistance.

Still concerned, Atwood continued up the road to his house, only about 100 yards away, and, once inside, telephoned police to report the accident. About 10 minutes later, a Haverhill police officer, and then a New Hampshire State Police trooper, arrived on the scene. Maura Murray’s car was empty and she had vanished.

The Caledonian-Record
February 9, 2007

It was originally thought that Atwood came upon Murray's Saturn when he was returning home aboard his bus after taking students on a ski trip.

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Whitman-Hanson Express
July 12, 2007

Arthur "Butch" Atwood is a former Taunton, Mass., resident, who worked as a school bus driver for First Student Inc., the second largest school bus operator in the U.S. according to the company website.

Atwood lived with his wife, Barbara, in a log-cabin style home 210 yards east of the Westmans at 4 Wild Ammonoosuc Road. Atwood was on his way home after dropping off students following a ski field trip. His home is on the town line with neighboring Bath.

Atwood stopped by the scene of the accident and saw a young woman alone in the car whom he later identified as Maura Murray. Her dark hair was hanging down, not in its customary bun, though Atwood said he could clearly see her face. She was "shook-up," but not injured, he reported to police.

"I saw no blood...She was cold and she was shivering," Atwood told the Caledonian Record.

Maura struggled to get out of her Saturn because the car door was hitting against a snowbank, Atwood recalled when interviewed for this story from his new home in Florida. There was as much as two and a half feet of snow on the ground in the area.

Atwood stepped out of his bus and asked Maura if she wanted him to call the police. Maura told him not to bother, saying that she had already called AAA, Atwood said.

A N.H. State Police "synopsis" released by Lt. John Scarinza four months later, painted a different view of their encounter: "When the passerby stated that he was going to call local law enforcement to come assist, Maura pleaded with him not to call police."

Atwood said that Maura remained on the driver's side of her car, about 15 to 20 feet away and stayed there during their entire conversation. A heavy-set man about 60 years old, Atwood may have cast an intimidating figure to Maura. "I might be afraid if I saw Butch. He's 350 pounds and has this mustache," Barbara Atwood told the Patriot Ledger two weeks after the accident.

Atwood offered to let Maura wait at his house until help arrived, but Maura wanted to wait with her car. He advised Maura to turn her car's lights on to avoid getting hit by vehicles coming around the bend. Atwood then left the scene and drove the 100 yards to his home.

Atwood doubted that Maura could have reached AAA due to the sparse cell phone coverage in the area. "I knew better," he said later. Family friend Sharon Rausch also confirmed that AAA did not receive a call from Maura that night.

Based on his recollection and the times reported in police dispatch logs, Atwood's conversation with Maura could only have lasted a few minutes.

After Atwood drove away, Faith Westman noticed the Saturn's interior lights switch on and off and witnessed a flurry of activity at the rear of the car, including a person standing at the trunk, according to private investigator John Smith, who spoke with the Westmans after the accident.

Smith is one of several retired police officers who have been working on a volunteer basis with the New Hampshire League of Investigators.

Meanwhile Butch Atwood backed his school bus into his driveway and went inside to call the police. He had difficulty reaching the 911 operator due to busy phone circuits. Atwood eventually got through to the Hanover Regional Dispatch Center, which in turn alerted the Grafton County Sheriff's department at 7:43 p.m., 16 minutes after Faith Westman's original call.

Atwood spoke to the 911 operator from the front porch of his house. He could see the road, but Maura's car was not in his line of sight. As he spoke, a few cars passed by but Atwood was not able to identify any of them.

"I did not hear or see anything strange happen," Atwood said.

Three minutes later, at 7:46 p.m., Haverhill police Sergeant Cecil Smith arrived on the scene. He had been dispatched at 7:29 p.m. following the call from Faith Westman.

Atwood saw that a police vehicle had arrived so he went to his school bus to finish up some paperwork, he said during an interview.

Atwood later estimated that seven to nine minutes had elapsed from the time he left Maura to the arrival of the police cruiser, the Caledonian Record reported.


While later reports would suggest that a witness observed Maura intoxicated at the time of the accident, the source of that information is unclear. Circumstantial evidence suggests Maura may have been drinking wine prior to the crash, but Butch Atwood confirmed to a reporter for this story that Maura did not appear intoxicated when he spoke with her.

After checking the area around the Saturn, Sgt. Smith knocked on the Westmans door and asked the couple what they had seen.

Sgt. Smith then drove the 200 yards east to Butch Atwood's home, and found Atwood sitting in his bus. Sgt. Smith knocked on the bus window. "He asked where the girl was," Atwood recalled and told the officer he hadn't seen anyone since leaving Maura's vehicle.

Sgt. Smith and Atwood both drove the area searching for Maura. Atwood drove in a loop from Mountain Lakes, a nearby recreational and residential area, to the Swiftwater Stage Stop General Store.

"I took a ride around the back roads. I was gone about 15 minutes. Then I took a ride to French Pond," Atwood told the Caledonian Record.


French Pond Road was the route Butch Atwood had driven in his own search for Maura shortly after she disappeared from the scene.


After years of being hounded not only by media, but by investigators and family, some key witnesses such as Faith and Tim Westman, Rick Forcier and Butch Atwood are reluctant to speak further about the case.

I felt especially fortunate to score a conversation with Atwood, the bus driver, who was the last known person to speak to Maura. Atwood moved to Florida not long after her accident and has avoided the media ever since. He even refused to talk with a private investigator who traveled to Florida and showed up on his doorstep.

Unfortunately in a case with so little available information, it does not take much for some to cast a suspicious eye. Atwood's story and motives have been questioned in some online forums and clearly he has grown bitter from the entire ordeal.

"People think I had something to do with her disappearance," he said during our phone interview, "I can hear it in your voice; you think I did too."

Atwood explained that as a witness, the case had grown tiresome. "You think you're doing a good thing for someone, but I've learned, next time not to stop, I'm not stopping," he said.

According to Atwood, who apparently spoke with Maura that evening, Maura had her hair down. Interestingly, Atwood later told a family member that Maura did not look like the pictures running in newspapers. Atwood clarified in our interview that the woman he spoke with did look like the pictures on the Missing Person signs, though it is worth noting that he and Maura remained 15 to 20 feet apart throughout their entire conversation and their encounter was past dusk.


On the even side of Wild Ammonoosuc Road is the home of Arthur "Butch" Atwood, the bus driver who said he stopped and offered Maura help that Monday evening.

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The Caledonian-Record
August 6, 2007

John Healy, who is a member of a team of investigators working on the Murray case in concert with the Molly Bish Foundation, said the team has come up with other theories about what happened that dark February night.

He said, based on the damage to the Saturn, that it appears as if the car was traveling at a slow speed when it may have struck the underside of another vehicle; the actual crash site may have taken place somewhere else. Not only that, they believe Murray may not have been the young woman then-First Student school bus driver Butch Atwood saw. They believe the scene where the Saturn was found by Atwood may have been staged.

New Hampshire Sunday News
October 28, 2007

Butch Atwood, a school bus driver who lived near the accident site, told police he drove past and stopped to help Maura after she crashed the Saturn into a stand of trees. She declined help, saying she had called AAA on her mobile phone, even though there was no cell reception in that location.

Maura pleaded with Atwood not to call police, according to one police news release. According to another release, Maura appeared impaired by alcohol.

Atwood, whose home was near the crash, called police anyway, as did another neighbor. But by the time police arrived about 10 minutes later, Maura was gone, leading authorities to believe at first the driver of the crashed car had fled the scene to avoid a drunken driving arrest.

Atwood said he offered to help Murray, a University of Massachusetts at Amherst nursing student, but she refused his assistance, saying she had already called AAA.

Atwood said he drove to his nearby home, parked his school bus and went into his house to phone police and emergency workers. It was the last anyone saw of her.

The Caledonian-Record
February 9, 2008

Butch Atwood, then a First Student school bus driver who happened upon Murray's car not far from his house while on his way home, said he had spoken with her and offered to get her help, but she asked him not to contact police. Atwood said she told him she had already contacted AAA.

Atwood then drove to his house, parked his bus and went to his house to call 911. He then went back to his bus to do paperwork. Less than 10 minutes later, he said Sgt. Cecil Smith of the Haverhill Police Department came to the door of his bus and asked if he had seen someone at the car. Murray had disappeared.

Atwood, however, drove home to call 911. When police arrived at her car, Murray was gone.

The Caledonian-Record
February 9, 2009

Butch Atwood was a First Student school bus driver who happened upon Murray's car, not far from his house, while on his way home that night. Atwood said he spoke with Murray and offered to get her help, but that she asked him not to contact police. Atwood said Murray told him she had already contacted AAA.

Atwood then drove home, parked his bus and went inside his house to call 911. Less than 10 minutes later, he said Sgt. Cecil Smith of the Haverhill Police Department came to the door of his bus and asked if he had seen someone at the car. Murray had disappeared.

SOCO Magazine
April 2011

https://www.reddit.com/r/MauraMurrayEvidence/comments/4yq4rq/newspaper_articles/d87wdmg The passerby who called Hanover dispatch was school bus driver Butch Atwood. Atwood had dropped students off at a nearby school following a field trip and was returning home. Atwood lived 100 feet from where Maura's car had gone off the road. He stopped and asked Maura if he could call the police for her. He said she appeared shaken up but wasn't injured, and did not appear intoxicated. She told him she'd called AAA on her cell phone and he didn't need to call police, Atwood left and called police anyway when he got home because he knew cell phone reception was bad in that area and didn't think Maura was able to reach AAA.

https://www.reddit.com/r/MauraMurrayEvidence/comments/4yq4rq/newspaper_articles/d87wqvm From the provided answers to describe the "apparent physical condition" of the driver, Smith circled "had been drinking." Considering that Atwood stated to police that Maura did not appear intoxicated when he spoke with her and that Maura was obviously not at her car when police came upon it, as well as the fact that the Coke bottle had not yet been tested to see if Maura had been drinking from it, circling that particular answer could be considered questionable.

Conway e-mailed SOCO in response to questions about her series of articles to assist with this story. In the second article in her four-part series, Conway retold the story of Faith Westman, the other person, along with Atwood, to call police to report Maura's car off the road. Westman told police she peered out her window and saw Maura's car lodged in a snowbank. This supports Parkka's conclusion that Maura's car did not hit trees.

https://www.reddit.com/r/MauraMurrayEvidence/comments/4yq4rq/newspaper_articles/d87y80v "They (New Hampshire State Police) never did it right. The rag stuffed in the tailpipe of the car, he (the first state police officer to respond to the accident scene) never photographed the scene, never searched the scene. He never bothered to call the father, the registered owner of the car. He knew a female was operating the vehicle that night because Butch Atwood just called," O'Connell stated.

Boston Magazine
January 28, 2014


Butch Atwood was driving his school bus back to his home just after 7 p.m. when he spotted a black Saturn stopped in the eastbound lane of Route 112, but facing west. He later told police that he pulled up beside the wreck and asked a woman fitting Maura’s description if he should call for help. The woman told him no, and that she had already called AAA. That seemed strange to him, since cell-phone reception in the area was weak to nonexistent. When he reached his house—it was within view of the accident scene—he called the police anyway.

The Caledonian-Record
February 8, 2014

First happening upon it, not far from his home, was school bus driver Butch Atwood, who told police he spoke with a woman later identified as Maura and offered to get her help, but she told him she had already called AAA and asked him not to contact police.

New York Daily News/Concord Monitor
February 8/9, 2014

A couple who live within sight of the scene called police. Butch Atwood, a school bus driver who lived nearby, told police he stopped by and asked Murray if she wanted him to call police. She said no. Atwood, who has since died, called anyway and appears to be the last person known to have spoken to Maura.