On Feb. 9, 2004, Maura Murray sent her professors at UMASS Amherst an email explaining that there was a death in her family and she would be gone for a few days. The 21-year old nursing student then walked out of her dorm room, purchased $35 worth of alcohol and drove her black Saturn into the White Mountains of New Hampshire. She took a shaky turn on Rt. 112 in Haverhill and crashed her car into a snow bank. A passing motorist pulled up to the disabled car, and asked Maura if she needed help. She refused. Around fifteen minutes later, a police officer arrived at the scene and found the car locked, its windshield cracked, the airbags deployed—and not a soul in sight. In those fifteen minutes, Maura Murray had disappeared into the New Hampshire night.
Every day for the last ten years, each detail of the Maura Murray tale is analyzed, dissected and reconstructed with a Warren Commission-like attention to detail on blogs and online forums. The car accident two days earlier in Amherst. The father visiting with $4,000 cash in his pocket. The crying episode. The box of wine. The serial killer. The MapQuest print out. The school bus. The rag in the tailpipe. The sobbing voice mail. The clues are moved around the internet in a parlor game by armchair detectives, debated as either viable clues or vicious red herrings, along with the idea—the hope—that this may not be a crime at all, but rather an elaborate ruse by a young woman wanting to start a new life.
My feature in Boston Magazine on Maura Murray and the internet sleuths determined to find her.