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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 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.
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.
- James Renner’s book – True Crime Addict: How I Lost Myself in the Mysterious Disappearance of Maura Murray(affiliate link)
- James Renner’s blog – mauramurray.blogspot.com
- Maura Murray Podcast via Stitcher Radio; iTunes; YouTube
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.
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.
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?
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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