Thursday marks 19 years since Maura Murray, a beloved athlete and fledgling nursing student, disappeared after she was involved in a car accident along a New Hampshire roadway. Uninjured, she spoke to a local bus driver moments after the crash, but disappeared minutes later and has been missing ever since.
Nearly two decades later, Murray’s family has remained steadfast in their quest for information and evidence that will lead them to her.
Murray’s sister, Julie Murray, has chronicled her and her family’s efforts on TikTok, through the account @mauramurraymissing, where she had garnered 2.7 million likes and over 225,000 followers as of this week.
“I often find myself switching between tenses – so ‘Maura is,’ or ‘Maura was,’” Julie said in a video from Jan. 26. “That was a struggle for me to make that switch and the timing of it, because you always want to hold out hope, and that’s really the only thing that fuels you and families like mine.”
She continued, “But it also torments you, in that we hope she will show up and walk through those doors. But then as years pass, our hope changes. The hope now is, I hope we get answers while the remaining people in my family are still alive.”
Maura Murray was a 21-year-old student at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 2004. Born in Brockton, Massachusetts, on May 4, 1982, she was raised in Hanson, Massachusetts, and was one of five children.
Her family described her as “an overachiever that excelled both academically (as a national honor society member) and athletically,” according to a webpage focused on Murray, MauraMurrayMissing.org. She was known “for her kind-heart, signature dimples, and beautiful smile,” and participated in several sports, including running and basketball.
Murray first attended the United States Military Academy at West Point in New York, after she received a congressional nomination from Sen. Edward Kennedy, the family wrote. However, she decided during her sophomore year of college to transfer schools, and instead began her nursing studies in Amherst, Massachusetts.
FEBRUARY 9, 2004
The Murray family has described in detail how Maura is believed to have spent the early hours of Feb. 9, 2004, before she disappeared.
The family has said that Murray submitted homework electronically that morning, and then sent emails to professors “stating there had been a death in the family and she would leave campus for the week” – despite that there had been no such death, the family said.
Murray then called the owner of a condo based in Bartlett, New Hampshire, where she was known to have spent time, the family said.
“She packed a bag with toiletries, makeup, work-out attire, school books, and several days’ worth of clothes,” the family said.
Murray withdrew $280 – “nearly all” of the funds in the account – from an off-campus ATM around 3:15 p.m. She spent roughly $40 on alcohol from a liquor store and left the area at approximately 4:30 p.m. that day, heading toward New Hampshire, the family said.
“She did not tell anyone what her plans were or why she was heading to New Hampshire on that Monday afternoon,” the family wrote.
A Haverhill, New Hampshire, resident called police and said a car – Murray’s black 1996 Saturn four-door sedan – was “stuck in a ditch” after it had crashed on Route 112, near her house, the family said. A bus driver passing through the area pulled to the side of the road and spoke to Murray soon after the crash.
Murray allegedly told the bus driver she did not need the police or help, and told him she had called AAA.
The man then left the area to call police at his home, where he had better cellphone service, the family said. He called police at 7:42 p.m. and allegedly reported that the woman “appeared shaken up and that the airbags had deployed, but that he saw no blood.”
An officer arrived at 7:46 p.m., but Murray was nowhere to be found.
“The officer noted that the car had been locked and there was a box of red wine behind the driver’s seat,” the family wrote, “as well as stains on the ceiling and door, and a coke bottle that appeared to have a red liquid in it.”
The officer, a local state trooper and the bus driver searched for Murray with no success.
“The bus driver’s brief interaction with Maura was the last known sighting,” the family said. “Since that time, there has been no trace of her and no activity on her cellphone or bank accounts.”
WHAT HAPPENED TO MAURA MURRAY?
Despite her family’s relentless quest for answers, Murray remains missing.
Several agencies are involved in the investigation, including the New Hampshire State Police, the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Cold Case Unit and the FBI’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Program.
The Attorney General’s office has said Murray’s disappearance “is being treated as suspicious.”
The office’s most recent update came in July 2022, when investigators executed a ground search “of an area located off Route 112” in Easton and Landaff, New Hampshire, Attorney General John M. Formella’s office said.
The search was part of the “ongoing investigative process,” rather than newly obtained information, and consisted of “a more extensive search surrounding areas that had been previously searched in a more limited fashion.”
Years earlier, in April 2019, investigators searched a single-family home near the crash site.
According to WMUR.com, authorities focused their attention on the basement of the home, where they dug through the property amid speculation that there might be a body buried. Investigators also used ground-penetrating radar and police K9s, but found no signs of human remains, according to the report.
“What happened today is that a team of over a dozen agents and detectives went into that basement,” Associate Attorney General Jeff Strelzin said at the time, according to the report. “They cut that area, removed the concrete and then searched several feet down and covered the area and beyond where that disturbed ground had been, and they located absolutely nothing other than a small piece of what looks to be potentially pottery or maybe a piece of old piping.”
Meanwhile, Murray’s family has created a GoFundMe page to be able to pay for their continued search efforts.
Murray would be 40 years old today, and would celebrate her 41st birthday in May. She has green/blue eyes and was last known to have light brown hair. She is around 5 feet 7 inches tall.
She has dimples and a scar on her face, the FBI said.
Anyone with information related to Murray’s disappearance is asked to contact the New Hampshire Cold Case Unit at (603) 223-3648 or via email at [email protected].