The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has issued a national alert in the hopes of finding out new information about Maura Murray, who disappeared after a car crash on February 9, 2004.
The Bureau has formed a Violent Criminal Apprehension Profile for Murray, the purpose of which is to share information with nationwide law enforcement to track serial offenders, as per the United States Department of Justice.
Murray’s family was notified of the alert last week, although are unsure as to why it took eighteen years to be issued.
Her sister, Julie Murray stated:
“I hope it’s because there’s new information.But I think it’s because law enforcement has exhausted all their sources that they have available, and this is a very powerful database they can use to track and correlate information.”
Maura Murray was a 21-year-old nursing student at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst (commonly referred to as UMass) when she seemingly vanished after a dangerous crash into a snowbank.
Almost two decades later, family and law enforcement is baffled as to what could have happened to her.
The Lead-Up To Maura Murray’s Trip
Murray’s disappearance is an odd story from the get-go.
She had been struggling during her time at UMass, even breaking down at one point during a shift at her on-campus job.
Her supervisor claimed Murray had completely zoned out, and had to be escorted to her dorm room.
The breakdown came after a phone call with Murray’s older sister, Kathleen, who had been discharged from a rehabilitation clinic and had returned to alcohol immediately afterward. Murray had been concerned for her sister’s well-being, and it seems as though the relapse hurt her most.
On February 7, Murray’s father, Fred, took her shopping for a car and later borrowed his vehicle to attend a dorm party.
Around 3:30 am, she hit a guardrail on the way back to her father’s motel, resulting in $10,000 worth of damage.
Fred recalled that the accident would be covered by insurance and that the police conducted no sobriety tests.
Her family recalled the lead-up to the wayward trip to New Hampshire on the website detailing the case, revealing that on the morning of February 9, Murray submitted her assignments digitally and told her department she had to leave campus for a week after a death in the family.
Unbeknownst to the school, Murray had fabricated the entire story.
Rather than go home, Murray packed up her belongings and began driving towards a condominium in Bartlett, New Hampshire – a place that was special to her due to past experiences.
Classes at UMass had been canceled that day due to an impending snowstorm, and citizens were instructed to stay indoors that day.
Maura Murray Travels To New Hampshire
When police searched Murray’s room after her disappearance, they noticed she had emptied the cabinets and removed decor from the walls, indicating she had been planning to leave her studies.
Placed on the boxes was a printout of an email to her boyfriend, where she hinted that they had been struggling in their relationship.
Just after 3 pm, she left campus in a black 1966 Saturn sedan and headed towards an ATM, where she withdrew $280.
She also purchased around $40 worth of alcohol from a nearby liquor store and was alone when she made her purchase.
Murray also picked up the accident-report forms from the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, the papers her father had requested after she crashed his car.
It has been assumed that Murray left Amherst via Interstate 91 North between 4 and 5 pm on February 9.
She never told anyone about her plans and presumably never wanted to.
Car Crash and Disappearance
At 7:27 pm, a resident of Haverhill, Faith Westman, reported an accident near her home, telling police that a car was stuck in a ditch.
According to the police log, Westman reportedly saw a man smoking a cigarette inside the car but later stated it was a red light.
The first person to approach Murray’s vehicle was Butch Atwood, a local school-bus driver. He stopped the bus and asked Murray if he should call the police.
According to Atwood, Murray insisted he not make any calls, telling him she had already informed roadside assistance – who later reported this was untrue.
Atwood was aware of the lack of reception at the crash site and had a feeling she had lied about calling for help.
Nevertheless, he drove 100 yards to his home, where she informed the police of the accident, reporting it at 7:43 pm.
Haverhill Police Sergeant Cecil Smith arrived on the scene at 7:45 pm. Murray was not present either in or near the car, and nobody witnessed her leaving.
Smith found the car locked, noticing airbags had been deployed and there had been damage to the windscreen.
He states the following in his official report:
“[The] evidence at the scene indicated the vehicle had been eastbound and had gone off the roadway, struck some trees, spun around, and come to rest facing the wrong way in the eastbound lane.”
Smith also noted the copious amount of alcohol present in the car, noticing some of the wine had spilled during the crash.
All that was missing was Murray’s cell phone and her debit and credit cards. None have been used since she disappeared.
The only alleged sighting of Maura Murray occurred between 8 and 8:30 pm when a contractor noticed a young woman walking east of where the car had crashed.
The contractor did not think to report this to the police, only noticing months later that it had been the same night Murray went missing.
The Aftermath of the Disappearance
Nobody truly knows that Maura Murray had been planning.
In 2014, her father insisted she would have made it to her destination had she taken a familiar route, saying:
“She knows it like her backyard. We were in New Hampshire so much, at least four times a year. She was up there every year of her life.”
The family has rejected theories that Murray killed herself, insisting that law enforcement would have located a body if that had been the case.
The most plausible theory is that she was picked up while roaming around, and the recent alert has reignited hope that someone out there can provide Maura Murray’s family with the closure they deserve.