Maura Murray was a 21 year old nursing student at UMass Amherst; when in  early February 2004, she emailed her teachers and told them there had been a death in her family and she would not be on campus for the week. She packed up her car, a 1996 black Saturn, with a few days worth of clothes and $280 withdrawn from her account, and left. 

The only problem with this is that there never was a death in Maura’s family. 

Maura was born on May 4th, 1982 in Brockton, MA to parents, Fred and Laurie. Maura was a very competitive person, excelling academically and athletically. After graduating at the top of her class at Whitman-Hanson Regional High School, she accepted a congressional nomination from senator Edward Kennedy and joined her sister Julie at the United States Military Academy at West Point, in West Point, NY. In her second year at West Point, she realized that the military wasn’t for her and transferred to University of Massachusetts in Amherst, where she pursued a major in nursing. While Maura was an intelligent and competitive student, she had run into trouble before. In 2003, Maura had used a stolen credit card under $250, copying it down onto a notecard from a receipt. The punishment for this was soon removed due to Maura’s good behavior. 

On February 9th, Maura had called the owner of a condo in Burlington, Vermont. The condo had been available for rent, but Maura had not rented it. She left a MapQuest printout to the condo, which makes police assume she was heading that way, though no one really knows for sure. 

    At 7:27 p.m., Maura’s car crashed into a tree on Wild Ammonoosuc Road in Woodsville, New Hampshire. Police had arrived on the scene by 7:45. The visible damage had been done to the front end, front and rear driver’s side, and front and rear passenger’s side, with a cracked windshield. When police arrived, the car was locked and Maura was gone. A local bus driver, Butch Atwood, had witnessed the crash, but had strangely been told by a young woman not to report the accident to the police, though he did anyway. They immediately suspected alcohol had been a factor, as a box of wine was on the passenger seat. 

Along with the alcohol, most of Maura’s belongings had been left behind in the car. But her debit cards, credit cards, and her cellphone were missing. Maura was officially considered a missing person the next morning. Six days after she disappeared, a search for her was launched, including tracking dogs, searchers, state and local police, helicopters, and state and game officials. They covered a 20 mile area along Rt. 112, where not a single footprint was found in the snow. The search dogs lost her scent a mere 100 feet from the accident, in the middle of the road.  

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    It has been over 16 years since the last time anyone saw Maura. No activity has been seen on her bank account or cellphone in 16 years. It’s unknown what fate she met on February 9th, 2004, but theories have sprouted over the years. One theory is that Maura disappeared to start a new life, though the only proof of this seems to be a letter to her boyfriend, detailing the problems within their relationship. Another theory is that she was abducted by an opportunistic murderer, which again has very little proof; that being that the dogs lost her scent in the middle of the road. One theory states that she committed suicide, the car crash being the catalyst. It had been her second car accident in two days. She was in a long distance relationship, handling two jobs, on top of her nursing program coursework.  

The theory I believe is that Maura died of exposure. This is honestly the most probable theory to me. She may have been scared after her accident, running into the woods to avoid the inevitability of law enforcement arriving at the scene. It could have also been the stress of all the things she had going on her life, as listed above. She didn’t want to get in trouble again. I say this due to the fact that she begged the bus driver not to call the police for the accident. She may have gotten lost within the woods and slowly became disoriented and confused. The winter weather in New Hampshire obviously isn’t very kind, meaning she most likely wouldn’t have survived very long if she had been in the woods. Remember, all she had with her was her credit and debit cards and her cellphone. I honestly believe that Maura died of exposure in the woods, most likely not all that far from the crash. There are still flaws in this theory. Why was there no footprint in the snow around the scene? There obviously would be footprints if she had run off. If she had died of exposure, or even if she had committed suicide, why was her body never found? That’s my personal opinion and I encourage you to form your own consensus after researching this yourself. 

Maura Murray's Dad Believes New Info Will Lead to Her Remains | New  Hampshire Public Radio

However, the theory that most people, including Maura’s own father subscribe to, is that Maura was abducted within the less than 18 minutes between the crash (7:27 p.m.) and the police arrival at the scene (7:45 p.m.). It doesn’t make sense that she would have ran off and started a new life, leaving behind her parents and sister, and never contacting them again. Maura’s sister, Julie, doesn’t think she is going to see her sister alive again. “She would have reached out. She would have reached out to somebody in the family. She wouldn’t want my family to go through this nightmare that we have for 16 years,” (Bob Ward) A popular piece of evidence for this theory is the 112DirtBag video. This was a YouTube video posted by a user called Mr112DirtBag on the 8th anniversary of Maura’s disappearance, on February 9th, 2012. The channel has since been deleted but copies of his video can be found on the website. 

Maura had gone missing on Route 112 and her father had gone on record and said she could have been abducted by “dirtbags”. It looked like too much to be a coincidence to be nothing. It’s posted on the day Maura went missing, it mentions where she went missing and what her dad said. It’s a video of a man simply laughing at the camera. Too much to be a coincidence, right? As it turns out, this man didn’t abduct Maura, as people had previously believed. The man, Alden Olson, turned out to just be a creep interested in missing cases in the Massachusetts and surrounding areas. He didn’t have anything to do with the disappearance of Maura, he was just interested in it, but we don’t know for what reason. According to the New Hampshire Dept. of Justice, Maura’s case is being treated as suspicious. 

Even with the different theories, no one thing really completely explains why Maura told her professors that there had been a death in the family, when there wasn’t anything of the sorts. Even after 16 years, Fred Murray is still holding out hope that one day Maura will be found. 

If you have any information about what happened to Maura Murray, call NH State Police at (603) 223-3648

Works Cited 

Berger, L. S. (2020, June 29). Maura Murray Disappearance: A Mystery Yet To Be Resolved. Retrieved November 30, 2020, from https://www.vizaca.com/maura-murray-disappearance/

Crowley, N. (2019, May 29). The Disappearance of Maura Murray (112dirtbag). Retrieved November 30, 2020, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-J55ngwDUTI

Fidler, J. (2020, January 03). The Mysterious Maura Murray Disappearance. Retrieved November 30, 2020, from https://medium.com/the-true-crime-times/the-mysterious-maura-murray-disappearance-9ea0b581923f

Maura Murray Official. (n.d.). Retrieved November 30, 2020, from https://www.mauramurraymissing.org/

New HampshireDepartment of JusticeOffice of the Attorney General. (n.d.). Retrieved November 30, 2020, from https://www.doj.nh.gov/criminal/cold-case/victim-list/maura-murray.htm

Ward, B. (2020, May 04). On Maura Murray’s 38th birthday, family launches new website for missing UMass student. Retrieved November 30, 2020, from https://www.boston25news.com/news/maura-murrays-38th-birthday-family-launches-new-website-missing-umass-student/JRQW77SCPFFW7J42W5BC2PRZ7A/

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