CONCORD, NH – New Hampshire State Police and state Fish and Game Department personnel were conducting a ground search Wednesday in connection with missing Massachusetts woman Maura Murray.
The search is in Landaff and Easton off Route 112, a sprawling area north of where Murray was last seen on Feb. 9, 2004.
Attorney General John M. Formella announced Wednesday morning that the ground search in an area off Route 112 “is not the result of new information in the case,” but part of “an ongoing investigative process.”
Formella said the areas were previously searched in a limited fashion, but this is a more extensive search of those areas. Route 112 in that area is also Wild Ammonoosuc Road, and follows the Ammonoosuc River past the southwest corner of White Mountains National Forest.
Julie Murray, sister of Maura, issued the following statement on Wednesday:
“My family is aware of the search efforts and are working closely with law enforcement at this time. We ask that the public not interfere with the investigation. We will share information as appropriate. We are encouraged by the active efforts to find Maura and remain hopeful for a resolution.”
It’s the second time this year that state law enforcement officials have made a move in the case.
In January, the state attorney general’s office asked the FBI to add Murray to its Violent Criminal Apprehension Profile registry, more commonly known as VICAP. The registry’s purpose is to share information with law enforcement across the country to track and apprehend “violent serial offenders,” according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Local law enforcement can request that missing people, among other potential victims, be added to it.
Murray disappeared after her car crashed into a snowbank on Route 112 in Haverhill. Searches by law enforcement have revealed little about her fate, and it was eventually added to the New Hampshire Cold Case Unit. The case over the years became a favorite of internet conspiracy theorists and “web sleuths,” whose speculation on Murray’s disappearance ranges from the logical to wildly unlikely.
Murray’s father, Fred Murray, a passionate advocate for a continued investigation into her disappearance, has always maintained she was on her way to Bartlett, where the family had spent a lot of time while she was growing up. Before Murray left the University of Massachusetts, where she was a student on the Amherst campus, she’d made a phone call seeking information on a condominium rental in Bartlett, though she didn’t make a reservation. Bartlett is about 60 miles east of where Murray crashed, and the crash site would have been on the route to the Carroll County town, at the eastern edge of the White Mountains National Forest.
Murray left UMass earlier on Feb. 9, 2004, without notice to friends or family. Her accident happened around 7:30 p.m., after which a passerby spoke to her and she said she was OK and had called AAA. When police arrived at the scene about 20 minutes after the accident, she was gone.
When she was added to the VICAP registry in January, NH Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeffery Strelzin told Manchester InkLInk that the move was an investigative tool. “The hope is that it may lead to useful information in the case.”
The purpose of ViCAP is to help find people who may be victims of a crime as well as find patterns that will lead to nailing down serial criminals, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Crime analysts, specially trained to study the database with the goal of identifying serial offenders, “have developed timelines on potential highway serial killer suspects,” the department’s website says.
Law enforcement agencies nationwide are asked to forward information about cases meeting “highway serial killings criteria,” including kidnapped or missing persons whose last known location was along a highway.
Last September, when human bone fragments were found on Loon Mountain, about 20 miles east on Route 112, the possibility they could be Murray’s was raised. But they turned out to be likely more than a century old.
The last time the NH AG’s office reported a potential development in the case was April 2019, when a house near where Murray was last seen was searched. Nothing was turned up in the search.
Anyone with information about Maura Murray is asked to call the New Hampshire Cold Case Unit at (603) 223-3648 or email them at Coldcaseunit@dos.nh.gov. Individuals can learn more about Maura and ongoing efforts to find her and bring her home at www.mauramurraymissing.org.