There is always that one case that you hear about that gets you hooked to learning about true crime. Sometimes the story tugs at your heartstrings, reminds you of a person in your own life, or maybe it flat out stumps you. This missing person’s case does all of the above. This is the mysterious disappearance of Maura Murray.
A 21-year-old Maura Murray disappeared on February 9, 2004. She was a nursing student who was completing her junior year at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Maura was a fun-loving young woman, doing the typical things people at that time do. She had friends who she loved going to bars with, had a boyfriend whom she loved, and family that always picked her up when she was down. However, the All-American Girl facade was started to come to light as Maura found herself in some sticky situations.
Prior to her disappearance, she was having a rough time that she hid very well. She had used a stolen credit card, had a difficult discussion (which is still widely speculated) with her sister who was a recovering alcoholic, and dealt around $10,000 worth of damage to her father’s car after spending the day with him to purchase a car for her.
However, our story starts on a bitter cold Monday in Massachusetts. A little after midnight on February 9th, Maura made some MapQuest searches for directions to the Berkshires and Burlington, Vermont. The first person she had any electronic contact with that day was her boyfriend around 1 in the afternoon. She ominously emailed him that she loves him but doesn’t want to talk to anyone at the moment. Phone records track that she made a phone call to a condominium complex in Barlett, New Hampshire that her family has rented from before. What we do know is that she inquired about renting, but the owner did not rent out to her. After that failed attempt, Maura made a call to a fellow nursing student for unknown reasons.
Her strangest contact was to her supervisor. Maura claimed that there was a death in the family and would not be in for at least a week. It was later proven by investigators that no death in her family, immediate and extended, had occurred. Around 2 P.M., she made a call to receive information on booking hotels in Stowe, Vermont. Her last call of the afternoon was to her boyfriend where she left him a voicemail promising to chat later.
Maura packed her car with clothes and everyday necessities, as if she was simply taking a trip. When her room was searched after her disappearance, it was indicated that most of her things had been packed into boxes with a printed-out email regarding her and her boyfriend’s turbulent relationship atop of a box.
As she left her campus around 3:40 P.M., she withdrew $280 from an ATM and footage proved she was alone. She later went to a liquor store where she purchased $40 worth of alcohol where she was again, alone. Maura headed up Interstate 91 north, however, there is no evidence she even had a destination in mind.
The last confirmed sighting of Maura is a strange one. Around 7:00 P.M. that evening, a woman heard a car hit the snowbank outside of her house along Route 112. This woman called the Grafton County Sheriff’s Department at 7:27 P.M. to report the accident and while speaking to them, she claimed to have seen a man inside of the car, smoking a cigarette. Another local approached Maura and took note that she was not harmed physically and offered to call for help for her since there was no cell phone reception where she crashed. In one police report, it is noted that she “pleaded” with the man to not call the cops. However, when he drove back to his house, he called the police at 7:43 P.M.
The Haverhill police log states that an officer arrived at the scene at 7:46 P.M. where there was no person in or around the crashed vehicle. The officer noted that the airbags had deployed and the doors to the car were locked. He continued to investigate Maura’s car and discovered red wine stains in and outside of the vehicle, found driving directions to Burlington, Vermont as well as a copy of Not Without Peril, a book about mountain climbing in the White Mountains in New Hampshire. It was later indicated that Maura’s debit and credit cards along with her phone were missing – none of these items have ever been recovered. As her car was being investigated, it appeared that a rag was stuffed into its muffler pipe – something her father claimed to have taught her if she ever got into car engine troubles, but not crashes.
On February 10, local media had enlisted the public to be on the lookout for a woman in her 20s wearing a dark coat, jeans, and a backpack. Around 3:20 P.M., a voicemail was left for her father explaining her car had been found abandoned, yet he was out of state for work. Later, Maura’s sister called their father to explain what was happening where he then contacted Haverhill Police where they explained they will deem her an official missing person if she does not come forward by the following morning. In the early morning hours of February 11, Maura’s father, family, boyfriend, and others started their search for her. After hearing the testimonies from her loved ones, the police indicated to the public that she could potentially be suicidal or wanted to run away from her life.
As her case gained nationwide attention along with the FBI participating in the search, Maura Murray has never been found or seen again since the night she crashed her car. Her disappearance is considered the “first crime mystery of the social media age” as her case was one of the first to have entire Internet forums dedicated to the mysterious vanishing. People everywhere have their theories about what happened to her, but nothing the police can confirm nor rule out completely. There are thoughts of her being kidnapped by a serial killer, her having a mental breakdown and went AWOL, and there are some more far-fetched ones where she committed a crime no one knew about and she wanted to run away to change her identity before anyone found out.
No matter what you believe, Maura Murray is still considered a missing person. Whether she made that drive to eventually take her own life, to create a new one, or had it threatened against her will, we may never truly know how Maura Murray magically vanished into thin air.