'04 disappearance of UMass student vexes dad, cops.

AuthorTuohy, Lynne

Byline: Lynne Tuohy

CONCORD, N.H. -- Ten years ago, Maura Murray packed her car, lied to professors about a death in the family and left Massachusetts. That night, on a rural road in the northern part of New Hampshire, the 21-year-old nursing student crashed her car.

Then she vanished, leaving a tormented family, vexed investigators and a case rife with rumor and innuendo. Lead investigators say there hasn't been a single, credible sighting of her since minutes after her car spun into trees and a snowbank along Route 112 in North Haverhill just before 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 9, 2004.

The disappearance of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst student is one of the most intriguing among scores of New Hampshire cold cases.

''No one knows for sure where Maura is or what happened to her,'' said Jeffery Strelzin, senior assistant attorney general.

Fred Murray believes his daughter is dead, the victim of a crime. But he wants to keep her case in the public eye in hopes of finally knowing what really happened that night on the threshold of the White Mountain National Forest.

''There's no letting go,'' said Murray, a medical technician in Bridgeport, Conn. ''My daughter wouldn't want me to quit on her. She'd want me to keep trying to find out who grabbed her.''

Her father and some investigators believe she just wanted to get away for a few days. It had been a rough stretch for the standout student who had attended -- and quickly left -- the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. She had recently resolved a criminal matter involving use of a stolen credit card and caused extensive damage to her father's car during a late-night crash.

Then there was a mysterious and traumatizing call four days before she disappeared. She was working her security job at UMass when the phone rang, and she burst into tears. A supervisor ended up walking her home. The caller -- and the subject of the call -- remain unknown.

But two days before she vanished, Maura was in good spirits as she and her father shopped for a used car for her and then went out to dinner.

Before she left that Monday, she had already called several lodgings, including one in Bartlett, N.H., that her family regularly visited. In her car were directions to Burlington...

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