Petition seeks action on Murray mystery using Change.org
On Feb. 9, 2004 Hanson native Maura Murray, then 21, disappeared after a car accident on a remote stretch of Route 112 in Haverhill, N.H.
Almost 12 years later, private investigator John E. Smith of Truth Seekers Investigations in Bethlehem, N.H., has launched a change.org petition to ask the FBI to actively enter the case.
“We’re trying to keep Maura’s story in the light,” Smith said. “We’re not looking for anyone to be ‘on our side’ … we just want what we’re trying to do put out there.”
Smith, a retired Littleton, N.H., police officer who lives about 15 miles from the scene of Maura’s accident, has been working with the Murray family for nearly 12 years.
The FBI, meanwhile maintains it is already aiding in the investigation.
“The FBI is assisting New Hampshire Sate Police and we’re going to defer to them as they are the lead agency,” spokesman Kristen Setera of the Boston FBI office said in a prepared statement this week. “Due to the fact that there is an ongoing investigation, we have to decline further comment.”
As of press time, a spokesman for the New Hampshire Sate Police had not returned calls for comment.
The petition has 2,880 of a 5,000-signature goal as of Wednesday morning, but Smith would like to see 50,000 people sign it. A podcast interview with Maura’s father Fred linked to the petition has had more than one million views.
A father’s pain
Fred Murray described his daughter as one who “never gave her parents any trouble in her entire life.” Initially interested in a military career, she later determined it did not suit her personality and transferred to UMass, Amherst midyear to study nursing.
“We just want her back,” Fred said on the podcast. “I need help and I’m so totally frustrated. … It’s my daughter. I can’t go away. I’ve got to find her.”
He said his daughter’s car was malfunctioning and due to be replaced within a week.
At about 7 p.m. on the night Maura disappeared she evidently veered off the road on a curve near a farm, a review of case information on the change.org petition states. A witness calling 911 reported hearing a vehicle accelerating and a thud. It was determined her car had spun out of control and hit a tree but Maura was nowhere to be found.
Accident reconstruction later determined no trees were hit by her black 1996 Saturn and that the damage to the car was likely caused by “a solid stationary object or a solid object at the same height as the damage” to the car.
A rag was also found stuffed into the tailpipe, according to the writeup.
“The only thing that the FBI ever did was, in late 2004, they went to Hanson, Mass., and talked to Maura’s high school friends,” Smith said last week. “We’re not sure what that had to do with the whole investigation because none of her high school friends were her college friends.”
That was one of the questions on which the FBI deferred comment.
“I think the only way it can be [solved] is if we have, hopefully, and unbiased FBI that will step in here,” Smith said. “We’re not sure what happened. We have several different theories.”
He said she could have just walked away, she could have been picked up by someone at the scene and “taken far away and murdered or something.”
Smith said there have been a lot of inconsistencies with police reports over the years, including conflicting ID numbers of responding cruisers and a lack of timely investigation to the east of the crash site.
“We’re even looking into the possibility that there’s some type of police involvement or some type of cover up on the part of the locals because someone important might have been involved,” he said.
He said New Hampshire authorities would have had to ask for help and that he was told they felt the assistance was not needed.
Smith said that is one of the questions surrounding the case that has never been answered and hopes signatures on the online petition will generate answers and a full-scale FBI investigation into a case involving Maura’s movements through three states.
“We actually have three states involved because she lived in Massachusetts, she drove though Vermont and she ended up in New Hampshire,” he said. “Now, with as long as this case has been going on, there’s just so many inaccuracies and inconsistencies that have followed this case for years that it just made no sense and made it harder to investigate for all of us involved.”