Last week, there was a flurry of police activity along New Hampshire’s Route 112. Dozens of police cars and a mobile command unit were parked along the route and officers searched the area where 21-year-old Maura Murray was last seen in 2004.
Murray was a nursing student at UMass Amherst when she disappeared minutes after crashing her car on a rural road in New Hampshire.
“Out of the blue, New Hampshire conducted a massive search for my sister Maura, not far from where she disappeared in 2004,” sister Julie Murray said. “My family’s encouraged. I’m in constant communication with law enforcement, and I will update when I can. But this is big.”
Coming just days after the launch of Facebook, the case has been labeled as the “first crime mystery of the social media age.”
Erinn Lakin hosts the “107 Degrees” podcast about the case. She and Maura Murray were on the UMass track team when Murray suddenly left campus.
“It’s sort of two mysteries. It’s, why was she going to New Hampshire and what happened to her? Combined with the fact that there’s really not a lot of clues,” Larkin said.
“She told her professors that there was a family emergency, or death in the family, and she was going to be away for a few days,” Larkin said, later adding: “Then she got in her car and drove to an ATM off campus and withdrew $290 and then stopped at a liquor store and bought about $40 worth of alcohol.”
But there was no death in the family. Her parents did not know anything about her plans.
As she headed north on a country road around 7:30 on a Monday night, she lost control on a sharp turn. The car went off the road and crashed into a tree.
911 transcripts show a call from a man driving by minutes later. He said she was shaken up and the airbags had deployed with heavy damage, but Murray refused help.
By the time an officer arrived, the car was locked and there was no sign of Murray.
“I think the most likely thing is that she was picked up by a local who offered her help, perhaps at first, but then … something bad happened, and that person is most likely responsible for her disappearance,” Larkin said.
After 18 years of searches and candlelight vigils, there are still no solid leads or answers.
Bones discovered last summer turned out not to be Murray’s. Now, with Murray’s profile finally entered into the FBI database, there’s hope that something will turn up.