Maura Murray in 2003
Maura Murray, a 21-year-old college student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, disappeared on a snowy night in February 2004.
Maura, a nursing student, sent an email to her boss and professors on February 9, 2004, letting them know she would be out of town for a few days due to the death of a family member. Her family says there was no death.
Maura left campus around 4:00 p.m. heading toward New Hampshire after checking for information about the area on her computer. She stopped by an ATM withdrawing $280, leaving her bank account nearly empty, and purchased $35-40 in alcohol before leaving Amherst.
Police began receiving calls about an accident in Woodsville, NH at 7:29 p.m. The first officer arrived on the scene less than ten minutes later, finding Murray's black 1996 Saturn with a cracked windshield and two deployed airbags. A damaged box of Franzia wine was found on the passengers seat. Other items found in the car include her AAA card, the insurance forms she retrieved for an earlier accident, her gloves, music CDs, her makeup, directions for Burlington, Vermont and Stowe, Vermont, and the Nicholas Howe book, "Not Without Peril." A rag from Maura's emergency roadside kit was discovered stuffed into the Saturn's muffler pipe. Maura is nowhere to be found.
Police did not begin the search for Maura until 36 hours after finding her abandoned vehicle. A police dog followed the scent 100 yards east from the location of where the vehicle was found, in the direction of a resident's house. It is implied that she may have been picked up or placed in a vehicle at the end of the scent trail. It is also possible that the scent had vanished due to the incident happening nearly two days earlier.
Police initially reported that they believed Maura had come to the area to run away or commit suicide, a theory debunked by her family and her fiance, an Army lieutenant stationed in Oklahoma.
Two days after her disappearance, Maura's fiance, William Rausch, received a voicemail message that he believes is the sound of Maura sobbing. His cellphone had been turned off so that he could pass through airport security on his way to help search for Maura. The call was traced to a calling card issued to the American Red Cross. Many believe this call was actually from Maura, not the American Red Cross, as it is unknown how the Red Cross would have his mobile number or why they would leave a voicemail with no actual message.
Murray's credit cards and cell phone have not registered any activity since the night she disappeared.
There have been reported sightings of Maura since she vanished, however, none have been confirmed.
Monday, February 9, 2004
* 8:00 - 8:30 PM - A Swiftwater, NH local reportedly sees a young person moving quickly on foot eastbound on Route 112, about 4 to 5 miles east of where Maura's vehicle was discovered. The young person was reported to have been wearing jeans, a dark coat, and a light colored hood. The witness reports that the person, upon seeing him, quickly ran down a side dirt road. There have been inconsistencies in multiple interviews.
Wednesday, February 11, 2004
* Maura's boyfriend receives a voicemail message that he believes is the sound of Maura sobbing. A New Hampshire State Police investigation traced the call to a calling card issued to the American Red Cross. Many believe this call was actually from Maura, not the American Red Cross, as it is unknown how the Red Cross would have his mobile number or why they would leave a voicemail with no actual message. The voicemail has since been deleted.
* A girl with blonde hair resembling Maura is seen at a church in Barton, Vermont. A witness says that the girl said her name was "Raykel" and took off quickly when the minister started a Father's Day sermon. There are no security tapes of the incident available. The sighting was not reported until a few months later when the witness saw photos of Maura on a television news program.
Murray is described as 5 feet 7 inches tall, 120 pounds, with brown hair and blue-green eyes. She was last seen wearing a dark coat and jeans and carrying a black backpack and Samsung cell phone.
A $40,000 reward is being offered for any information leading to her whereabouts or the arrest of the person responsible for her disappearance. The tip line is 603-271-2663, New Hampshire State Police.
View photos and video of Maura Murray's vehicle and the crash site below.