It’s a case that has gripped New England crime sleuths for over a decade. Twelve years ago today, Maura Murray mysteriously disappeared after a one-vehicle car accident on Route 112 in Haverhill, New Hampshire.
The twenty-one-year-old nursing student left the campus of UMass Amherst on the afternoon of February 9, 2004. Maura had emailed her professors earlier that day, telling them there had been a death in her family and she’d be gone for a few days, but no such death had occurred. She packed up her car with some of her belongings, including toiletries, clothes, and textbooks, and stopped at an ATM just before 4:00 p.m. to withdraw $280 from her checking account. Moments later, she pulled into a liquor store and purchased several different types of beverages, including a box of red wine. She drove north in her black Saturn sedan, calling her voicemail at 4:37 p.m., the last time she ever accessed her cell phone.
Around 7:00 p.m., a female resident on Wild Ammonoosuc Road in Haverhill, NH, called 911 to report an accident outside her residence. A black Saturn had seemingly hit a snowbank along a hairpin curve in the road and spun completely around. The car was facing west on the eastbound side of the road. She could see the driver of the vehicle, a female, moving about outside the vehicle. Moments after calling 911, the caller reported seeing one of her neighbors pull up alongside the car. That neighbor, a school bus driver, spoke to the female in the car, offering to call the police. The woman reportedly told him she’d already called AAA and did not require any help. The neighbor then pulled into his own driveway and called the police anyway. Moments later, when police officers arrived on the scene, they discovered a locked vehicle and the driver was missing. Inside the Saturn, police could see a damaged box of wine in the backseat, with red stains covering the seats. The car was towed from the scene and a BOLO was issued for Maura, the presumed driver of the car, but she was never seen again.
The odd circumstances surrounding Maura’s death have kept the case alive on social media and in true crime forums for over a decade. Why was she headed toward the White Mountains that night? Was she meeting someone? Was she planning to run away? Was she thinking of starting a new life somewhere else? What would she be running from? Why didn’t she tell her family or friends where she was going? Whatever the circumstances, armchair sleuths from around the nation have been obsessed with the case for years. I can remember the story first showing up in our local newspaper in 2004 and haven’t stopped thinking about Maura since. I’ve even driven up to the accident scene to check out the area myself.
Want to learn more? There is a treasure trove of information available online. I’d start with James Renner’s blog, My Search for Maura Murray. He’s been investigating Maura’s case for the better part of the last decade while writing his book, which is due to come out this May (pre-order it here). You also might be interested in checking out a podcast on the case by Lance Reenstierna and Tim Pilleri, two documentary filmmakers. Maura’s family also operates their own website, www.mauramurraymissing.com. Anyone with any information about Maura’s disappearance is urged to call the New Hampshire Cold Case Unit at (603)271-2663, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.