Will the Internet Find Maura Murray?

Ten years ago, a 21-year-old UMass student vanished without a trace. For an army of amateur sleuths across the Internet, that was just the beginning.


On the afternoon of February 9, 2004, a 21-year old nursing student at UMass Amherst named Maura Murray sent an email to her professors: There was a death in the family, she wrote, and she’d be gone for a few days. Then she gathered up her text books—she’d always been a good student, scoring 1420 on her SATs—and climbed into her Saturn sedan. A 5-foot-7 brunette, she was a native of Hanson, Massachusetts, and had spent three months as a cadet at West Point before transferring to UMass. She packed toiletries, a week’s worth of clothes, exercise gear—she ran track and cross-country—a stuffed animal given to her by her dad, and a necklace from her boyfriend, whom she’d met at West Point and was now stationed in Oklahoma. Murray planned to spend the following summer with him, and she may already have known that he intended to propose.

There were other items in the car, many of which would be obsessed over for the next decade: some alcohol; a MapQuest printout of directions to Burlington, Vermont; and a book, titled Not Without Peril: 150 Years of Misadventure on the Presidential Range of New Hampshire, which tells the tales of more than a dozen hiker tragedies in the White Mountains. Maura’s parents separated when she was six, and though she lived with her mother, her father would often take her hiking in those mountains. By all accounts, she loved going up there.

By 7 p.m, it was dark and Maura was zipping along on a black stretch of Route 112 in Haverhill, New Hampshire. She took a shaky turn and crashed into a snow bank. Not long after, a passing motorist pulled up to the disabled car and asked Maura if she needed help. She declined. Mere minutes later, a police officer arrived at the scene and found the car locked, its windshield cracked, the air bags deployed—and not a soul in sight. In just those moments, Maura Murray had disappeared into the New England night.


This month marks the 10th anniversary of Maura’s disappearance. At the time, the case was a national sensation. Investigators began looking for her, with search dogs combing the area in a half-mile radius around the accident and helicopters deployed overhead. The media flocked to the scene: first the local television stations and the press up from Boston, and then the national media horde. Montel Williams and Greta Van Susteren covered the story, and on February 17, eight days after the disappearance, CNN’s Soledad O’Brien interviewed Maura’s father, Fred Murray, and her boyfriend, Bill Rausch, who flew in from Oklahoma. Rausch told O’Brien that, while traveling, he received a voice-mail message: “I could hear only breathing and then towards the end of the voice mail, I heard what was apparent [sic] to be crying and then a whimper, which I’m certain was Maura.” The number was from a prepaid calling card. Two weeks later, as leads remained elusive, the Globe asked, “Where Could Maura Be?” Ominously, the paper noted, “The more details are revealed, the more baffling the case becomes, police acknowledge.”

By the end of fall 2004, the TV crews and newspapers were gradually fading way. Still, Fred Murray would travel to the area every weekend, pressing authorities for more answers than they could provide. Maura’s family and friends felt like they were out in the mountains alone. But they were about to get a lot more company than they ever bargained for. Maura had gone missing just as the social Web was being born, and there was a small chorus beginning to get louder in an unexpected place: Internet message boards.


For Maura Murray, the weekend prior to her disappearance had been a whirlwind. She was in the middle of her nursing program, as well as going on the clinical rotations that were part of her junior-year curriculum. She also worked as a security guard at an art gallery and in the dorms. At around 10:20 p.m. on the Thursday before she disappeared, she received a phone call, and later in her shift that night, she became so upset that her supervisor escorted her back to her dorm room.

That weekend, her father came up from his job in Connecticut to help Maura find a new car. Maura’s 1996 Saturn “kind of blew a cylinder” and was “smoking something fierce,” according to Fred Murray. “I said, ‘You can’t drive this car. The cops will pull you over in a heartbeat,’” he recalls. As a temporary fix, Fred says he suggested she put a rag inside the tailpipe to hide the smoke. He says he withdrew $4,000 over the course of eight ATM transactions and that on that Saturday he took Maura to purchase a car in Northampton. They ended up a couple of thousand dollars short, though, so Fred figured he’d go home, round up some more money, and come back another time. Father and daughter drove back to campus and went to dinner at a brewpub in Amherst with one of Maura’s friends. Later, Maura dropped off Fred at his hotel and drove his new Toyota Corolla to an on-campus party, where she drank with friends.

Maura left the party at 2:30 a.m. and headed back to Fred’s hotel. At 3:30 a.m., while driving through Hadley, she crashed into a guardrail. The police showed up, but no charges were filed—and by all accounts Maura, though visibly shaken, was not given a Breathalyzer test. Close to $10,000 worth of damage was done to the car.

  • jamesrenner

    If you’re interested in reading the police reports related to Maura’s disappearance and other info, including her affair with a UMass track coach during which she spoke about starting a new life, following this link: http://mauramurray.blogspot.com/p/what-weve-learned-so-far.html

    • Phaerisee

      Thanks for that information. I thought it was interesting that the dogs apparently lost the scent within 100 yards, and that the bus driver lived within 100 yards of the site of the accident. I am not saying he had anything to do with it, but I wonder if he was asked to voluntarily take a polygraph. The rag in the tailpipe seems like it could be the key to the case or just one of the seemingly endless anomalous coincidences. If it were not for the rag, I would not suspect the father at all. But since he was the one who apparently introduced the rag according to his words that throws suspicion on him. I really get the feeling though, just based on the statistical probabilities, that perhaps they ought to consider a more comprehensive interrogation of the bus driver.

      • jamesrenner

        The bus driver took two lie detector tests. Supposedly he failed the first one but passed the second. He had a lot of health problems and died a few years ago. IMHO, I don’t think he had anything to do with her disappearance.

      • dnelliganvisionlandscaping

        Was the bus driver’s property ever thoroughly searched? If not, why? I thought I heard the father was not allowed on his property, (not sure if this was accurate or not). My first suspicion was with the bus driver also. What questions varied on the polygraph? This has haunted me from the beginning; if a search party is put together, count me in!

        • j23o

          It would have been good police work to have done it as he was the last person to have seen her alive and examine the bus as well.

      • j23o

        I’m sure you cannot drive a car with a rag shoved in the exhaust,the engine would die pretty quickly because of back pressure.Did they analyse the rag to see if there was carbon deposits on it? or was it shoved in to stop her getting away?was the car driveable after the accident or was there major mechanical damage.I think she was a bit drunk and just lost control.

  • Glenn Adams


    Family’s perseverance, social networking led to recovery of missing Athens woman

    By JOE JOHNSONupdated Monday, September 17, 2012 – 9:11pm

    After several harrowing weeks out on her own while authorities considered her an endangered missing person, 25-year-old Ivy Dawn Merck recently returned home with her parents.

    Steven Merck on Monday described how he and his wife, Sally, found their daughter while passing out missing person fliers in Florida as they searched for the University of Georgia graduate who intentionally disappeared from her Athens home.

    “It’s unbelievable,” Steven Merck said via telephone from his home in Camden County. “We were riding down the road in Miami when we saw about five or six police officers on bikes, and Sally said we should stop and give them some fliers.

    “They told us to go to the police station and leave fliers there, and when we got to the Miami police station, Ivy was just there, sitting on the steps,” Steven Merck said.

    “We just kind of stared at her, and she was in a state of shock. Then we all started running to her, and we all must’ve hugged for 10 minutes before we started talking.”

    When she went missing, Merck was struggling with personal problems. Authorities who investigated her disappearance concluded from notes she left and other evidence that the woman might be suicidal.

    Authorities spoke with Merck’s family members on Thursday and prepared them for a possible tragic outcome.

    That same day, Merck’s sister-in-law got an idea from Websleuths.com, an Internet virtual community that follows and comments about missing persons cases and unsolved crimes. She and her husband, Chad Merck, both had registered with Websleuths.com to spread the word about the missing woman.

    Someone posted on the website that the family should create a Facebook page devoted to the search. Stephanie Baker-Merck responded, “Excellent idea. I’m going to start working on this right now.”

    The page was up and running that night. Because Merck’s birthday was the following day, authorities and family members urged people to post birthday greetings with the hope Merck might read them and realize how many people cared for her and were concerned.

    “We created this page to give people a place to express their concern for Ivy and show her how much she is loved and valued by family, friends and the community,” Baker-Merck said. “We made this page with her birthday in mind, but we would have done it regardless.”

    Ivy Merck actually saw the special Facebook page and read Websleuth.com discussions about her, which got her thinking about contacting her family.

    In a Websleuths.com post Sunday afternoon, Chad Merck explained the rest:

    “(Ivy) had gone to the (University) of Miami library the day before, because it was a safe place to go during the day,” Chad Merck posted. “She used a computer and had seen the ‘Find Ivy Dawn Merck’ Facebook page and the Websleuth blog posts.

    “She realized that she needed to come home at that point. She said she set out (for) the police station this morning, but went the wrong way and got lost. She passed several pay phones, but could not bring herself to make a call.”

    That was at about the same time Ivy Merck’s parents ran into the bicycle officers in Miami.

    “(Ivy) had arrived at the station 10 minutes prior and was trying to bring herself to head inside. You can imagine her shock at seeing my parents in the flesh,” Chad Merck said in his Internet posting.

    “I am not a statistician, but the odds of us arriving at the same location in Miami at the same time must be incredible,” he wrote. “There is no other way to explain such an amazing coincidence, other than as an answered prayer.”

    The family initially searched in the Deerfield Beach area, because that’s where authorities found the missing woman’s car. Chad Merck explained on Websleuths.com that the family decided to expand the search to Miami because a “generic” address in Miami was the last location his sister had entered into her car’s GPS.

    The Merck family’s ordeal started shortly after Aug. 21, when she told her roommate and supervisor at Good Hands Veterinary Hospital in Oconee County that she was leaving to visit her parents.

    She boarded her dog in the Camden County community of Kingsland on Aug. 23, but never arrived at her parents’ house. That’s when Steven Merck filed a missing persons report with Athens-Clarke police.

    Authorities listed Merck as a missing person in state and national law enforcement databases, and on Aug. 30, a sheriff’s deputy in Florida’s Broward County found Merck’s car in a parking lot in Deerfield Beach, just south of Boca Raton and about 350 miles from Kingsland.

    The car had just about run out of gas, authorities said, and the tires were so bald the car couldn’t be driven and had to be towed.

    According to Chad Merck’s Websleuths.com postings, his sister appeared to have lived in the car because blankets were inside.

    After learning his sister had entered a Miami location in her car’s GPS, Chad Merck decided the city’s South Beach would be a good place to continue the search, he said in his online post.

    “I had visited Miami a few times and figured that you find your way to South Beach at some point,” he said. “If Ivy did come to Miami, then it was worth a shot.”

    There was no parking available, so the man dropped off his parents on South Beach’s main drag, and they later went to the beach and left fliers at lifeguard stations before their son picked them up, Chad Merck said in his post.

    The family felt frustrated and was about to drive back to Deerfield beach when Sally Merck spotted the officers on bicycle patrol.

    “We headed over there, and I dropped my parents off,” Chad Merck said. “I called my wife and was lamenting how futile our search had been that day. We had no leads at all. My mom then called me, so I switched over, and she said the words, ‘We found Ivy. Come now.’

    “I then ran towards the police station, and there were my parents hugging and sobbing over a very stunned Ivy,” he said. “She looked the same, except she had cut her hair shorter and dyed in blondish. She was tanner and a bit sunburned from overexposure to the sun, and was visibly trembling. All she had with her was a ratty knapsack with some clothes in it.”

    On the drive to their hotel room, the family members learned about Ivy Merck’s ordeals over the previous three weeks.

    “Ivy … survived sleeping on the beach and had several people that helped her at key times with food and protection,” Chad Merck said in his Websleuths.com posting.

    “I am sure there were many harrowing experiences over these weeks on the street, but God provided protection for her to leave unharmed physically,” he said.

    “Ivy had her laptop, money and most of her belongings stolen in separate instances, but she survived the experience and was reunited with family. Our family is overjoyed with the outcome.”

    Steven Merck did not know if or when his daughter would return to Athens, because seeing to her emotional needs comes first.

    “We’re going to take care of her and do whatever it takes to get Ivy back to society and back to just being Ivy,” he said.

    • Follow Criminal Justice reporter Joe Johnson atwww.facebook.com/JoeJohnsonABH or http://www.twitter.com/JoeJohnsonABH.


  • LP29

    Seriously show her face, this is a ridiculous joke and disrespectful to the family. Why would you not show her face, she is MISSING!!!!

  • Polly Penwell

    Wow!! THAT’s INSULTING!! It’s a perfect example of the IGNORANT and ARROGANT attitude that makes law enforcement so unpopular in this country.

    “DIY detectives” have solved cases more than once where law enforcement have failed to do so. In fact, a “DIY Detective” just this past month solved a 30-year-old missing persons case in TEN MINUTES that somehow managed to elude law enforcement for over three decades.

    And while we are busy “not being fruitful” do you want us to “contact the authorities” with information? Or do you want us to “not interfere in the investigation?” PICK ONE!!!!


    Re: quote:

    In Maura Murray’s case, Strelzin will not say how often law enforcement monitors online forums, but concedes that the police are “aware of things that are said.” He adds that “nothing fruitful” has ever come from the DIY detectives.

    “All we ask is that they do not interfere in the investigations,” Strelzin continues. “You would expect that if people had information they would contact the authorities.”

  • Polly Penwell

    Undo. Undo. (Sigh)

    Sorry. Too much caffeine, not enough reading.

  • Jo Anna Lee Ball
  • Epter

    Good article on a vexing case. I couldn’t help but notice that notwithoutperil was deleted today. Was “samledyard” expecting to be identified by name, or was this a doxxing? In any event, there would be news value to naming interested websleuthers and contextualizing their interest, but I wonder if work as an atty is complicated by a sleuthing hobby. In any event, I’ve been following this for the past few months as an objective observer and this was a really balanced, informative take on the multiple perspectives on the case that acknowledged the weird online turf wars in the weeds without getting stuck in them.

  • johnallore

    Fascinating piece. Some thoughts:
    1. If theorists really do believe Maura went to Canada, specifically Sherbrooke, I wonder if they are aware there is a monastery there, Abbaye St. Benoit Du Lac, that might have provided refuge. In fact, my father knocked on their door 35 years ago when my sister went missing.
    2. Maura’s father, Fred Murray and I have corresponded over the years. He may now feel she was abducted by “a local dirtbag”, but for a time he took the notion of her fleeing to Canada very seriously. I know because I put him in contact with some police investigators with the Quebec police.
    3. I have also corresponded with James Renner. I respect James’ tenacity, but his comment that Fred Murray must be hiding something because, “In the history of missing women, what father has ever not wanted more publicity about their missing daughter?” is unfair, irresponsible, and simply not accurate. When my sister disappeared, authorities accused her of being everything from mentally disturbed, to a runaway, to a “lesbian” (heaven forbid). At that point, the very LAST thing my parents wanted was more publicity. They felt betrayed by the people they supposed were there to help them, and so they shut up. This is exactly what Fred has done, and I don’t blame him one bit.
    4. I am pretty sure I was one of the first blogs to start covering this story beginning around 2004.
    J Allore

  • j23o

    Having watched the programme more than once I think the whole case was kicked off by that 1am upsetting phone call she received which she never confided to anyone the of the content.She became irrational after that.We know there was no family problems so could that phone call have been a secret love interest.Was she being told it was over?or a death?At the accident scene she had obviously been drinking alcohol mixed with coke while driving and threw it away afterwards. Why did she purchase so much alcohol in the first place.?I think she fell victim to an opportunist sexual abduction.Why did the police not let loose the scent dogs on that bus that passed?anyone would feel safe being picked up in a well lit bus.Wasn’t Ariel Castro a bus driver?something to dwell on.This case was always intrigueing because there was a lot of unexplained things going on before the disappearance.

    • Throckmorton

      The bus driver that “passed” lived within one hundred feet of where her car was found. I think you have the right idea.

      • http://festivals4fun.com/ Viveta Mentze

        This still doesn’t make sense you guys.. if you use Occam’s Razor correctly, you’d see this isn’t the most likely theory at all.. In fact its very UNLIKELY… You are basically saying its likely that within minutes of the crash, the bus driver in the small window of time kidnapped and killed the girl, somehow had her disappear without a trace, and rather than spending time to go over what he would say called police to report it, rather than making working on clean up, an alibi, etc. you are saying the most likely scenario was that he did all that, and called police as soon as he got home. If this is the most likely scenario, how did he do all this in a short period of time, why was he the one who called the police, why haven’t police or the girl’s family expressed belief that he is hiding something, how come we haven’t heard of a failed lie detector test by him; or a refusal to take one (which would be the “most likely” possibilities if he were involved.. I could go on and on… The point is, all the things I mentioned above highlight why this is not the MOST LIKELY SCENARIO and why you aren’t using Occam’s Razor correctly if you think the bus driver was most likely involved…

        • bern1417

          You seem to think everyone else who posted here is wrong and you’re the only one who is right, yet the girl is still missing.. Why would the bus driver have to kill her right then and there and then call 911? Why couldn’t he have subdued her with something like ether tied her up somewhere and then did whatever he wanted to her later on that night? He lived awfully close to the accident scene that 10 min is a long enough time to place her somewhere – a shed, garage not connected to house etc..- .. You haven’t heard of any of the things you mentioned bc the guy is dead and has been for some time now. I’m not saying he did it, but to assume that he had to pick Maura up, kill her, and then call the police in a 10 min window is just asinine considering he didn’t have to kill her immediately.

        • bern1417

          And actually anyone who has followed this case knows that the bus driver took 2 polygraph tests and failed the first one miserably, but then redeemed himself on the 2nd one..

  • Throckmorton

    Some friends and I have been taking a look at this. Everything is pointing to the bus driver in our opinion, and the theory is that he tampered with the car, and anticipated the accident and was waiting for it.

    • elizabeth

      nah…. read more about it. the bus driver was completely cleared by police. i think if he were at all suspicious they would have been completely on him from the get-go

    • http://festivals4fun.com/ Viveta Mentze

      I agree with Elizabeth, it doesn’t seem at all likely it was the bus driver at all. He was the one that called police as soon as he got home, and the timeline backs up his story; the lady who first heard the crash was minutes prior, not enough time to do anything sinister. Also, the first call was made by the woman so you know the time roughly that the crash initially happened, the bus driver comes across the crash talks for a few minutes, then heads straight home and makes the SECOND call to 911 and dispatchers arrive there. He would have had no time to take her anywhere if he was involved and then call 911 so quickly from his house (which would have been idiotic if he was involved besides to call the police right away),

    • j23o

      Would there not be fingerprints if he tampered with the car?How would he know Maura was driving that way?They were complete strangers.

  • Samuel Ledyard

    We’re rebuilding the blog.

    The first post is a response to this great article. Please feel free to share your thoughts. http://notwithoutperil.com/2014/02/17/the-internet-will-find-maura-murray/

  • joeb

    Fred knows more than he’s saying like why she was going where she was going.
    However it does not take alot of crime solving skills to know that she was abducted, listen people dont vanish within 10 minutes. We may never know the abductors identity.
    But clearly she didnt abduct herself!

    • http://festivals4fun.com/ Viveta Mentze

      Joeb has it all figured out! lol. moron. Fred is the guy pressing to have ALL the information released and went to court for this to happen! Also he visits the area every weekend and was on countless tv shows to keep the story alive in hopes of finding his daughter.. Yet JoeStupid here believes the father is hiding info.. Yawn. They did this to John Walsh too when his son was kidnapped and murdered.. you people are really sick to go after a family in mourning without SOLID evidence! Great work Sherlock!

  • jenn

    I think they should go to a psychic a legit one to give them some answers.. Idk that’s what I would do..

  • phychics arent real

    Yes jenn, that’s a great idea! Because there is totally a big difference between a legit psychic and a regular old
    Phychic …… right? Ha ha

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  • Kat

    I have a genuine question: She was drinking and crashed her car. She pleaded with a passer-by not to call police and lied by saying she had already called AAA. She left the scene of the accident, probably concerned that she would be arrested for DUI. When police arrived, they found her car smelling of alcohol and found the interior stained with wine. She is drunk, irrational, just had a car accident wherein the airbags were deployed. She was probably frightened and disoriented and desperate not to get arrested after her recent legal troubles. Why is it so inconceivable that, upon seeing the lights from the police cars, she hurried into the woods to escape detection, became disoriented in the dark, got lost and then eventually succumbed to exposure? It was the middle of winter in New Hampshire, at night, and she could have been in the woods for hours. Perhaps she had hit her head during the accident or was stunned by the violence of the deploying airbags, which would have worsened her judgment and made it easier for her to become disoriented in the woods in the dark. Why is it inconceivable that she died in the woods that night from hypothermia? A body can be overlooked in the woods for years and possibly never found. It would have decomposed, been scavenged, covered by snow and leaves and debris, etc. The simplest explanation is often the correct one.

    • j23o

      No footprints were found either side of the road leading away.Police dogs found no scent trails except leading from the car along the road for a few feet and then nothing.No doubt she entered another vehicle either willingly of by force.

    • Lizzie

      This is what I think happened too. This way or she had an intent to commit suicide and the crash was the last straw for her. I honestly believe she wasn’t feeling so good about herself/everything and might have brought a gun with her or even a bottle of pills. It only takes one hopeless second and life is lost forever. Also the book is a good hint at her state of mind.

    • Larissa

      The only thing is no footprints and no body has ever been found. I think if someone drove by and offered her a ride she would have said yes to avoid a DUI and more legal issues. She seems like a bright girl but clearly something in her life was bothering her. All it would take is one bad person picking her up and murdering her and disposing of the body. I think if she was alive she would see how worried her dad is and give him some message she is ok. You can clearly see missing his daughter is aging the poor man.

  • j23o

    Didn’t those neighbours and the bus driver who all lived within eyesight of the crash see any car pass from when they phoned the police?There are so many twists and turns to this incident that sends your brain into overdrive.It was never discovered who made that phone call to her at work that made her so distressed.If we knew that we might know the reason why she decided to take off.I believe this was an opportunist abduction with a sexual intention and inevitably followed with murder and concealment of the body.There are too many cases like this with the same modus operandi to make it any different.She just ended up at the wrong place at the wrong time.This case will never be solved.

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    i want to thank Dr Zaba for bringing back my ex husband, we broke up for more than 4 month and he told me that he never want to see me in his life again. i love him so much to the extend that i could not do any thing again, i was confused and depress due to the love i had for him.i did everything i could do to have him come back to me but all went in vain. so i decided to contact a spell caster, i did not believe in spell casting i just want to try it may be it would work out for me. i contacted Dr Zaba for help, he told me that he have to cast a love spell on him, i told him to start it. after 3 days my husband called me and started to apologize for leaving me and also he told me that he still love me. i was very happy and i thank Dr Zaba for helping me get back my ex husband back to my hands. his spell is the the greatest all over the world, it was the love spell he cast on my ex that make him come back to me. all you ladies who want back the ex husband back i want you to contact Dr Zaba at the following email address and get all your problem solve..No problem is too big for him to solve..Contact him direct at (ZABASPELLHELP@GMAIL.COM) OR (Zabaspellhelp@yahoo.com) and get your problems solve or you can call his cell pheno on +2348056391583

  • Andrea Jean

    i want to thank Dr Zaba for bringing back my ex husband, we broke up for more than 4 month and he told me that he never want to see me in his life again. i love him so much to the extend that i could not do any thing again, i was confused and depress due to the love i had for him.i did everything i could do to have him come back to me but all went in vain. so i decided to contact a spell caster, i did not believe in spell casting i just want to try it may be it would work out for me. i contacted Dr Zaba for help, he told me that he have to cast a love spell on him, i told him to start it. after 3 days my husband called me and started to apologize for leaving me and also he told me that he still love me. i was very happy and i thank Dr Zaba for helping me get back my ex husband back to my hands. his spell is the the greatest all over the world, it was the love spell he cast on my ex that make him come back to me. all you ladies who want back the ex husband back i want you to contact Dr Zaba at the following email address and get all your problem solve..No problem is too big for him to solve..Contact him direct at (ZABASPELLHELP@GMAIL.COM) OR (Zabaspellhelp@yahoo.com) and get your problems solve or you can call his cell pheno on +2348056391583

  • Baby You

    I had a really creepy something not right vibe when my car broke down in Maine a couple years back where I had called AAA to come out, but instead another tow truck company came & claimed to be working for them. Perhaps he was, but when I called AAA to let them know their man had gotten there she said that wasn’t one of their guys. He was just all around creepy, and being two girls in our early 20’s we were probably just being paranoid, but is it not possible that a tow truck driver passing by or notified by radio of a car off the road could have taken her situation to his advantage? It’s easy to get some one in to your car on a freezing night with obvious car problems if you claim to be in that field and there to help. ( The guy who claimed he was AAA in my case later told us on the way to drop off us.. that he drives around several states in the east coast keeping an eye out/ear out for assistance needed.. well that’s my theory.. or some complete stranger who happened by her, or she happened to find looking for help claimed they would help her…

  • Ed Meno

    i think she just bailed. she’s probobly hanging out in some commune.

  • shoele

    My guess: pregnant or in some sort of legal trouble. Cause of death: accident or homicide. I believe she may have fallen or become disoriented in the woods or she was taken by someone lving within eyeshot of the scene. Another possibility, maybe she knocked on the door of one of the nearby neighbors and he or she killed her.

    A lack of footprints or scent trail doesn’t mean anything! These tests are subject to human error.

    In the end, I feel saddest for her father. He may be a difficult person to deal with, but at the end of the day he’s a grieving man who just wants some answers in the disappearance of his daughter.

    Her case is haunting and intriguing but very very sad.

    • j23o

      He’ll be a broken man,i would be if it was my daughter.The not knowing.

  • joy mark

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  • Karren Greenie

    Getting my Ex back my name is Janice. I’ve known Kerrick for 6years, When we finally got together things were kind of weird so we broke up which was in February of 2011 In June of 2012 he and I recently got back together and we were together until march of 2013 which he told me he was not interested in relationship again During that time I changed completely, I wasn’t eating,I was sleeping a lot, I wasn’t talking to anybody, I cried a lot,I’m so depressed and stressed out that I’m scared I’m going to end up in the hospital because of all the stress and depression until one day i search online on getting love tips because I Love & care about him deeply and I just want us to be together as a couple again and I want us to last forever, in my search i saw good review about lordshema@hotmail.com that he will solve my relationship problem then Lord Shema told me he will come back to me between 48hrs after he cast spell on him never believe it until my fiance called me on the phone and told me he want us to come back and live happy together forever , Am so happy now that Lord Shema, help me bring kerrick back to me. Thanks so much his email address is lordshema@hotmail.com or call him +1 209-730-3310

  • Sabella Williams

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  • Sabella Williams

    HOW I GOT MY HUSBAND BACK!!! i want to say a very big thanks and appreciation to Dr. peter for bringing back my husband who left me and the kids for almost two months. i am very much grateful to Dr. peter I pray God almighty give you the strength and wisdom to help more people having similar problem like mine. for help you can reach him on his email address: ayokospellcaster@gmail.com he is very powerful and can solve any kind of problems below.

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  • V3n0m

    Strong suggestions that she was in some kind of trouble, but unwanted pregancy would not be a reason to avoid the police. Its clear that her intention was to run away, for whatever reason. She lied about the death in the family and seemed like she was avoiding talking directly with her boyfriend, instead communicating with text messages and voice mail. She also took all her money from the ATM.

    Sometimes fear of consequences can be far worse than the actual consequences of a criminal act, if that is what she was worried about.

    She had the map for Burlington, Vermont and may have planned to enroll at a Nursing School there. She probably did attempt to phone AAA, but discovered she wasn’t able to get a reasonable reception to make the call. She perhaps suspected that the bus driver would call the police, even though she had insisted otherwise.

    From everything I have read my gut instinct makes me believe that she was not murdered. There wasn’t a great deal of time between the police being called and them arriving on the scene to discover that Maura was not there. Neither do I believe it was suicide. Clearly, something had been bothering, as demonstrated by the emotional breakdown 2 days before she left and other erratic behaviour. If she was going to commit suicide there would be no reason for her to take that journey by car. It didn’t sound like a spur of the moment choice, but something she had planned to do – packed her bags, given a false story to her supervisors at the Nursing School etc.

    I don’t exactly know how to explain the lack of footprints, unless she herself covered her tracks to avoid being followed by the police. If she was sure the police would be on their way she would not have chanced walking along the road, which leaves us with the nearby woods. It was after 7pm in the winter, cold and dark. If she had gone into the woods it would have been extremely dark. So, It is very possible that she could have fallen somewhere, but I find it hard to believe that police would not have found her body if she had indeed tried to travel through the woods. Its impossible to guess how far she could have possibly travelled within the woods.
    The voicemail to her boyfriend almost 24 hours after would suggest that she was still alive at that point, but perhaps very badly injured and would have been suffering from the effects of the cold and probably hunger also. Seems like that phone call would have been a last goodbye, rather than a call for rescue.

    Her body may still be out there in the woods somewhere. Very sad really.

    • V3n0m

      After writing my last post I found other information elsewhere that gives me serious doubts about my previous theory.

      A man told the police that at sometime between 8pm and 8.30pm he had seen a person running down the road on the evening Maura vanished. The person was said to have been wearing jeans and a dark coat, with light coloured hood, but he didn’t report it to police until 3 months after Maura’s disappearance. If that is true it means that she did not go into the woods at all, but travelled along the road on foot. I still believe that Maura may have covered her footprints in the snow to avoid being followed by the police.

      There are suggestions that a particular man and his girlfriend have a connection to Maura’s disappearance. Apparently, they lived less than a mile away from the car crash scene.
      I don’t know their names, so I will call him “that man” but its possible they could have persuaded or forced Maura to get into their car at some point along the road and then taken her to their house. If she had continued walking or running along the road for some distance people would have seen her. Its likely that she panicked after talking to the bus driver, knowing that someone would call the police after see the car at the side of the road. Her judgement may have been impaired due to a high level of anxiety, the cold and the alcohol that she had most likely been drinking at the exact time she crashed the car. Therefore, she have may accepted a ride with a stranger, when normally she would have been more cautious.

      The phone call on the Thursday at 10:20pm was from her sister. If Maura was already planning to run away, she may have become very upset at the thought of never seeing her family again.

      Finally, the voicemail she left for her boyfriend almost 24 hours after she vanished. The call was made using a phone card, which means a pay phone and not a mobile phone. Speculating now – that she may have escaped her abductor and run to the nearest pay phone from that man and his girlfriend’s house. I’m wondering where the nearest pay phone would have been to that man’s house and more importantly, why she didn’t speak on the voicemail. Perhaps she was gagged or just too upset to speak. Sadly, In my mind I can’t help but think she may have been re-abducted just seconds after she made the phone call, because she couldn’t have travelled very far on foot and that man may have known she had escaped almost immediately. They would not have chanced her escaping again and may have killed her soon after, in their house, perhaps as a punishment for her escape attempt.

      Unfortunately, nobody seems to have seen her at that time.

      I’m confused as to why even at the point of being in serious danger that she would not call the police and instead left a voicemail on her boyfriend’s phone. I don’t care how much trouble she thought she was in from the credit card theft or something else, I find it impossible to believe that knowing her life was in serious danger she still wouldn’t call the police.

      Apparently, a bag was found in the woods. She may have left her bag in the house when she attempted to escape.
      I have no idea if it was Maura’s, but it could have been planted there by that man or his girlfriend to make everyone think she had gone that way.

      I read that man’s brother gave Maura’s father a knife near the end of 2004. Was he trying to tell Fred Murray what really happened to Maura?

      Unfortunately, after all this time they only things that could bring this case to a close would be a confession of murder from that man and/or his girlfriend or the discovery of Maura’s body buried at that man’s house and I have to imagine that man would have moved her body somewhere else after the police and media activity had faded away.

      So, we have two scenarios and it hinges entirely on which way she ran from the car. I don’t believe she was attacked at the scene of the car crash, becuase there is just no evidence to suggest that.

      • j23o

        She wasn’t even suitably dressed for the cold weather.she would have succumed to hypothermia quickly but I believe she did start walking.She would have been a sitting duck for an opportunist abduction which what happened in my opinion.

        • V3n0m

          I agree. Someone would have seen her if she had walked any great distance and as you say, it would have been cold on that winter’s evening.

          I don’t exactly know what she was wearing, but it does say a coat from something I read about the case, but still I don’t think she would have wanted to travel far on foot. If someone offered her a ride, then I think she would have accepted, just because it was cold and dark. Sadly, it seems likely that someone took advantage of her predicament to most likely tragic ends. I didn’t know her, but it makes me sad to think about it.

      • Anonymous

        I am new to this case. I first read about this case a few days ago, and it has me intrigued.
        Here are my thoughts coming from a fresh pair of eyes.

        I believe that she was not originally planning to run away. I believe she wanted to get away for a short time, but I don’t believe that she was looking to start a new life.

        I don’t believe she was planning on taking her life. Why pack a week’s worth of clothing, take your school textbooks, and other stuff if you know you are looking to end your life?
        None of that stuff would matter if you are looking to end your life. And why plan a trip that is several hours away?

        I do believe that she was dealing with some recent troubles, and she just didn’t know how to deal with those troubles. She planned this trip just to perhaps sort thru her troubles.

        But then that plan went awry when she wrecked her car. She suddenly was in a panic, knowing that she wrecked a car twice in a matter of a few short days. She may have been drinking prior to wrecking her car. She hadn’t even told anyone of her trip. She was extremely upset over her sister’s relationship troubles. Maybe she had issues of her own between her and Billy. She was in trouble previously for using a stolen credit card. All these problems came to a head, and she felt powerless to face them.

        She even refused Atwood’s help when it was offered to her. If she was unable to reach the police or AAA on her cell, and really wanted help, she would not have refused the help offered up by Atwood.

        She knew he would probably call anyways even though she told him not to. So she is in a state of panic, and she decides to run. She is a very fast runner, and she thinks she can outrun the cold. I don’t know how far she could have gotten.

        Maybe she went into the woods, and couldn’t outrun the cold, and she succumbed to the elements. Just because her body has not been found doesn’t mean she didn’t do that. The only thing that has me baffled is the lack of footprints in the snow, and the dogs losing her scent not far from the accident site. Especially since I read there wasn’t any newly fallen snow that would cover her tracks in between the time of the accident and the time of the search and rescue attempts.

        Perhaps a passerby saw her running along the road on this cold night and offered her a ride. Maybe she did take this person up on his or her offer, even if that is something she would not have normally done. Maybe this person was not out to harm her, and, at Maura’s insistence, dropped her off at another location. Maybe this person has not come forward because if people found out after all these years he or she may have picked up a hitchhiker resembling Maura and dropped her off somewhere else, that person would suddenly be the main suspect. With all the recognition this case has received on the internet, I would not be surprised if people acted like a lynch mob if someone came forward with pertinent information and was suddenly made a suspect.

        And maybe then Maura was now in another location, miles from her intended destination and also miles from the accident site. And after being dropped off, she continued runing into the cold night, and eventually succumbed to the elements at a location miles from where she originally crashed.

        Maybe it’s another far-fetched theory, but maybe it is not. It actually seems highly plausible to me.

        • V3n0m

          I agree with a lot of what you say. I don’t believe she was planning suicide either and I do agree that clearly she was in a very anxious state of mind around that time, for various reasons.

          Unfortunately, we may never know what actually happened. From a seemingly simple event any number of possibilities can come to mind. I wish I could say that you are right or wrong, but I don’t know anymore than anyone else about this case.

          • Anonymous

            So many different theories can be formed from this one single event. We don’t have all the facts of the case, and law enforcement is not going to give away all they know. I do believe they haven’t done a thorough investigation.

            The events leading up to her disappearance are complex mysteries in themselves, and many theories can be developed just trying to figure those events out.

            And not having all the facts leaves so much room for speculation. And we may never have all the facts.

            I have been continuously analyzing this case, and with each piece of information I read, my theory changes. I guess we are all trying to make sense out to this and come up with the most plausible conclusion of what transpired that night.

            Given that they could not find tracks in the snow, and her scent could no longer be picked in the middle of the road suggests to me she was picked up by someone.

            That person could have had good intentions, offered to pick up what appeared to be a woman in trouble running on a cold dark night, and Maura took that person up on the offer. This person began asking questions. Are you in trouble? Why were you running? Is somebody chasing you? What is your name, and where are you from? If that person saw she was injured, where did you get those cuts/scrapes/bruises? Were you in an accident? Do you need me to take you the hospital or the police station? Maura, who may have been evading police, would have become frightened and panicky at these questions wanting dropped off down the road. She would have continued running. This could have explained a possible sighting of her 4 to 5 miles away from the original accident site a short time later.

            She could have been picked up by someone who had bad intentions, which is not inconceivable. I have checked, and there are are sexual offenders and people with questionable backgrounds living in that area at that time, not far from the accident site. She may have been forced into the car. Maura may have escaped from her abductor down the road only to later be re-abducted. Or she managed to escape her abductor, and continued running, miles from the original accident site, but was unable to escape the elements.

            There are so many different scenarios one could come up with.

            I just hope together we could all solve this case and bring closure to the Murray family.

          • V3n0m

            All entirely possible, but no real way I can see to narrow it down to the one most likely scenario. I do believe it is likely that she ran down the road after being confronted by the bus driver. She feared Police involvement and she may not have taken what she thought of as a risk of being arrested, by staying with the vehicle.

            Unfortunately, I can’t help but imagine that she did get in a car with a person who had bad intentions, as sad as that does make me to think about. I don’t believe a person would have forced Maura into the car, in case other passing drivers saw that. Maura wanted to get away from the area and may have taken any opportunity offered to make sure she avoided being questioned by the Police.

            I have a big question mark over the voicemail message that was left on her boyfriend’s phone around 24 hours after Maura’s disappearance from the scene of the car crash. Apparently, the sound of Maura crying can be heard on the voicemail.

            I’m not sure what to make of it, other than it strongly suggests she was still alive at that time. Was she lost and alone or scared and attempting to escape her captor? Why did she say nothing? Was she so scared to still refuse to phone the Police, even at that point?

  • j23o

    Like most of the cases featured on the Disappeared tv series,this case is no different.A young pretty female suddenly disappears never to be seen again usually with the same modus operandi.I agree with her father’s conclusion.If she isn’t being held against her will then she’s long been murdered like all the other females, always a sexual motive.I always wonder how the case would have panned out if Butch Atwood had not stopped that night and subsequently phoned the Police?Could have been weeks before it came to light.