Maura Murray: Missing from Massachusetts since 2004

This is a requested case I received via email. Normally, I do not write about a case that has been discussed numerous times elsewhere. But, I am making an exception this time. This case was one of the first cases featured on Investigation Discovery’s show, Disappeared. 


Maura MurrayMaura Murray disappeared in 2004 after her black Saturn sedan crashed along Route 112 near Haverhill, New Hampshire. She has never been found.

About the Case

Around 7:30 p.m. on February 9, 2004, Maura Murray, a 21-year-old college student at University of Massachusetts Amherst, was driving her black sedan down Highway 112 near Haverhill, New Hampshire when she lost control of the vehicle and crashed.

Front of Maura’s car. Photo credit: James Renner @ mauramurray.blogspot.com

Bus driver Butch Atwood witnessed the crash. He stopped and asked Maura if she wanted him to call the police, but she pleaded with him not to.

Police were called anyway, but by the time they showed up around 7:45 p.m., Maura was gone. Some of her personal belongings were inside her car except her cell phone and credit cards.

When police went to search Maura’s dorm, they found packed boxes of her personal belongings and a note to Billy, her boyfriend, on top of the boxes.

At about 1:00 p.m. that day, Maura emailed her supervisors and instructors and told them there was a death in the family, and she needed to take a few days off. This was a lie. No one had passed away.

Later on, Maura went to an ATM and withdrew $280 from her bank account. She is seen on surveillance video alone. Police have not released the video to the public.

After leaving the ATM, Maura headed to a liquor store and bought $40 worth of alcohol. She then left Amherst and headed north into New Hampshire.

At 4:37 p.m., Maura checked her voicemail. This is the last time she used her cell phone.

A few days before she disappeared, Maura became distraught during a phone call at work. When her supervisor asked her what was wrong, Maura said, “My sister.” Her supervisor escorted her back to her dorm room. It is unknown what the phone call was actually about, but Maura appeared to be in an almost catatonic state, according to the supervisor.

In the months prior to her disappearance, Maura was arrested for credit card fraud, and a day before she crashed the Saturn, she was in another wreck while driving her father’s Toyota Corolla. Maura hit a guard rail and caused $8,000 in damages, but this was covered by insurance. This occurred after leaving a dorm party hosted by Sara at 2:30 a.m. She told her friends she was going to bed, but instead drove toward her father’s motel in Hadley. Fred Murray was in town that weekend to buy Maura a new car. It is unclear why she chose to drive to the motel after she had been drinking.

Despite numerous searches for Maura, she has not been found.

A witness came forward to say she waited on three women on February 9th – one she was positive was Maura – at Butson’s Supermarket (Now Shaw’s) in Woodsville, New Hampshire where she was working as a cashier at the time. It was around 6:00  or 6:30 p.m. and the trio bought alcohol there. The cashier carded them and noted that two driver’s licenses were from Massachusetts and the other either New York or Connecticut. The women were also seen at nearby McDonald’s a short time later by other witnesses. These sightings have not been confirmed.

There have been several sightings of Maura in the Sherbrook, Quebec area in Canada, but non have been confirmed.

To read more or listen to podcasts about this case, click on the links below.

True Crime Diva’s Thoughts

First, let me just say there is TONS of info on this case. TONS. Seriously, Google her name and see what you get. I almost hate it when there is too much info because you almost have to decipher what is factual and what isn’t. I’ve read and and read and read on this case many times recently and a bit over the years. I spent days reading all of James Renner’s posts and comments about this case on his blog, on top of other sites.

I almost read myself blind. 😉

If I left something out or there are factual errors, no need to comment about it. I am NOT going to correct anything in this post after publication. I will not guarantee the accuracy of what is provided.

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Now on to my thoughts on this one. I agree with James Renner. I have NEVER believed foul play was involved in Maura’s disappearance. NEVER. To me, it’s CLEAR she ran away from her life, so I do not understand the obsession over this case and with Maura herself. She was an adult in 2004, so she had the right to disappear if she wanted to.

I do not believe any other scenario except her leaving on her own. There is absolutely NOTHING to suggest she was abducted and murdered, but there are several things pointing to her leaving and starting a new life elsewhere.

  • She did not want Butch Atwood to call police after the crash and then she vanished before they showed up, taking her cell phone and credit cards with her. Who does that? Someone who is on the run, that’s who.
  • Someone known to Maura must have picked her up at the crash scene or was following behind her (helping her run) when the crash occurred. It’s the only explanation of how she got away so quickly.
  • Her personal belongings in her dorm were packed in boxes, and there was the note to Billy. Clear signs she was leaving town.
  • Maura withdrew almost $300 from the ATM. Not a lot of money but it would provide at least a couple nights in a motel somewhere.
  • Certain things going on in her life prior to her disappearance show that she was not in a good frame of mind and could have walked away from all of it. Her boyfriend, the credit card fraud, the phone conversation at work, etc.
  • Many sightings of Maura were near Sherbrooke, Quebec. If these were true sightings, and I think they were, well, when Maura was driving that night, if she kept going north, she would have landed in Sherbrooke. You go right near Haverhill on Interstate 91, although this does not explain why or how Maura was heading east on Highway 112.

Other thoughts…

The sightings of Maura and two women with her in Woodsville is interesting.  Woodsville is a 15-minute drive northwest of the accident scene. The sighting was around 6 or 6:30 p.m., and Maura’s accident on Route 112 was at 7:30. It fits into the timeline. However, one thing confuses me. Why was she driving east from Woodsville? I assume she was going to Canada, and I do believe she ended up there, but where was she headed at the time of her crash?

Shaw’s, formerly Butson’s Supermarket. The accident happened on a curve near The Moose Rack
The route from Amherst, MA to crash scene outside Haverhill, NH

I’m thinking Maura was originally heading somewhere like the White Mountains, a place she liked to visit, but then got into the accident. So, where did she go after that? And was her original destination at the time the White Mountains for a quick getaway, and then go back to Amherst? If so, the accident probably changed her mind and caused her to run. After all, in her eyes, this was just another screw-up to add to her list.

Now, about the alcohol purchase in Amherst the day she disappeared. On Renner’s blog in a 2015 post, he lists what was found in her car and alcohol was not on that list. However, in 2011, he wrote that all the alcohol she bought – vodka, Bailey’s Irish Cream, and wine – was accounted for by police. So, which is it? And if it was found, had any of it been opened? I’m trying to figure out if Maura was drinking while driving. I’m thinking she bought the alcohol to drink with friends once they got to the White Mountains.

Because Maura disappeared within 15 minutes – between 7:30 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. – someone she knew had to be following fairly close behind or driving ahead of her. This person or persons drove to the accident scene, picked Maura up, and then drove with her to an unknown location.

I do not believe Maura staged the crash. That’s a pretty stupid move because she could have been seriously hurt. I think this was a legit crash and it put a bit of a damper on her plans. Because of the crash, she was forced to leave most of her personal belongings behind.

The boyfriend, William Rausch…

He’s an interesting person. He has a bit of a bad history with women, so I’m wondering if he was controlling, maybe abusive to Maura, and that is one of the reasons she fled. I do not believe it was the sole reason she left. I think her family was another reason.

I believe that Kate and Sara know exactly where Maura is. Their actions after her disappearance speak volumes.

I could go on and on about this case but I’ve spent way too much time on it as it is. 😛

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Author: truecrimediva

True crime blogger

  • sweetface

    So glad to see you wrote about this, I requested it by e-mail. 🙂 I wish her friends or family would still speak more publicly about the case, it seems like there has been silence besides the podcasts and James Renner (who has not been very popular with lots of people, including Maura’s family) — unless they know where she is, which does not exactly make sense to me though. What could possibly make her disappear? Sure, she’d been in legal trouble but it wasn’t dramatic enough to justify vanishing into thin air forever.

    I am actually not sure whether she disappeared on her own. Would she really be able to pull off disappearing to Canada and live there for years without a work permit or social insurance? Get by working odd cash jobs under a false name? I guess it is possible but in this case she must have actively planned her disappearance for a while beforehand?

    I want to believe she is out there but the most likely scenario to me is that she was afraid the police would show up and she’d get into trouble again so she decided to hide out in the woods for a while, perhaps she had been drinking, and she passed away from exposure to the elements. I know they searched the area but there have been so many cases where they found missing persons less than a few miles from where they were last seen, just a little bit further away from the area that was searched (for example the Jamison family).

    The fact that she was so distraught that one night at work is definitely very mysterious to me (her sister confirmed that she has no idea what this could have been about). As well as the fact that she pretended she had a family emergency when there was none.

    Well like you said…we could go on forever about this. 🙂 So much info out there!

    • No problem! Of course, we cannot rule out accidental death or foul play, because we just do not know what happened to her. One theory I read was that Maura could have had help from an underground network that helps abused women relocate. These people help the women establish new identities elsewhere. It’s kind of far-fetched but it kind of makes sense, too lol. Like you, I’d like to think she’s alive somewhere but who knows?

      That phone call is very strange, but I have to wonder who could have caused her such distress? I wonder if she got in over her head with someone or something that she shouldn’t have. Again, I don’t know. So many possible scenarios with this one!

      • sweetface

        I have not heard that theory yet but it could be an option for sure. She was definitely going through something before she disappeared.

        I am a firm believer in occam’s razor and my number one theory is still that she passed away from exposure out in the woods because she was trying to avoid getting into more trouble. It just seems the most likely to me but you are right, her strange behavior could indicate something else might have happened. It was bitter cold that night and snowing so she could have passed away from hypothermia. Perhaps the snowfall accounts for why they did not find footsteps leading away from the car.

        I also find it very interesting that a student at UMASS was hit by a car on the night that Maura was found so shaken up by her supervisor – it happened hours before from what I read. It was a hit and run and there’s speculation that perhaps Maura was the driver of the car and that is why she was so upset that night. Of course this could be nothing but it could explain why she was so distraught. Hopefully one day there will be answers, I feel for her family!

  • Ted7 l1j

    Supposedly she had been having an affair with one of the coaches/teachers at Amherst, but who knows? It would be one more reason to flee her life and start over.

    • Yes, I did read that. She definitely had plenty of reasons to begin a new life somewhere else.