It was February 9, 2004, and as far as any of Maura Murray’s relatives knew, everything was going well in the 21-year-old woman’s world. But on that day, Maura, a nursing student, stunned everyone she knew when she packed up her dorm room, withdrew some money from the bank, e-mailed her professors to tell them she wouldn’t be in class for the next week due to a death in the family, and then hopped into her 1996 black Saturn and disappeared.
And it was the strangest thing… There was no death in the family.
According to the Haverhill, New Hampshire police, at 7:27 p.m. that night, Maura’s car slammed into a tree on Wild Ammonoosuc Road in Woodsville, N.H.
Police were on the scene by 7:45 p.m. The responding officer wrote that “evidence at the scene indicated the vehicle had been eastbound and had gone off the roadway, struck some trees, spun around and come to rest facing the wrong way in the eastbound lane.”
Damage was visible to the driver’s side, front end, front passenger side, rear driver’s side and rear passenger side of the vehicle. The windshield had also been cracked. The vehicle was locked and Maura was nowhere in sight. A witness to the crash, a local bus driver, said the car had been driven by a young female who told him not to report the accident to the police. He did anyway.
Law enforcement immediately suspected that alcohol had been a contributing factor in the crash. A box of Franzia wine was visible on the passenger’s seat and there was red liquid on the driver’s side door and the ceiling of the car.
The car was eventually towed away, but not before the responding officer recovered a Coke bottle “that contained a red liquid with a strong alcoholic odor.”
A Beloved Hometown Gal
Fred and Laurie Murray welcomed their daughter, Maura, into the world on May 4, 1982. In high school, she was a track star, but she was also smart and academically talented, and she went on to study chemical engineering at the U.S. Military Academy at Westpoint. She later transferred to the University of Massachusetts (UMass), where she switched her major to nursing.
Maura Murray’s life was not trouble-free, however. She had gotten herself into a bit of trouble in 2003 when she was arrested in Amherst for improperly using a credit card under $250. She had used the credit card, which was stolen, at various restaurants and stores in town.
When confronted with her crime, Maura admitted to getting the number from a bottom of a receipt and copying it down on a notecard. The charge was soon dismissed due to Maura’s good behavior.
On February 7, 2004, Fred met up with Maura to help her look for a new car. Afterward, he returned to the Quality Inn where he was staying and he went to the Amherst Brewing Company for dinner. Around 9 o’clock that night, Maura and Fred went to pick up Maura’s friend Kate, and the trio went back to Amherst Brewing Company for drinks.
Before Maura and Kate dropped Fred off at the Quality Inn for the night, they stopped at a liquor store.
Maura and her friend then went out to party, but she crashed her father’s car. So, Fred rented another car, picked up his daughter, and dropped her off on campus around 1:30 p.m. on February 8. Maura told her father she went around the corner, hit some sand, and skidded. She said she hadn’t had anything to drink in a while, and she was never given a breathalyzer or a ticket.
With the threat of a snowstorm looming over the area, classes at the university were canceled for February 9. Maura e-mailed all of her professors and her work supervisor to inform them there had been a death in the family and that she would be gone for a week.
There was no death in the family.
Maura then drove to an ATM and withdrew $280. Then, she went to the liquor store and spent $40 on Bailey’s, Kahlua, vodka, and a box of Franzia red wine. Additionally, she stopped at the Amherst DMV to pick up the insurance paperwork for her father’s car, which was damaged in the crash the day before.
She placed a call to her own voicemail at 4:37 p.m.Then, she packed up her car and left for her mysterious trip.
At 7:27 p.m., Maura wrecked her car. The only clue she left behind was a printout of MapQuest directions to a condo complex in Burlington, Vermont.
A review of Maura Murray’s cellphone records show she called the owner of one of the condos, which was for rent, and police can only assume she was headed to Burlington, though no one knew of her plans.
Maura was declared a missing person the next day, and that’s when authorities discovered she had packed up her dorm. Placed on top of one of the boxes was a typed letter to her boyfriend detailing problems in their relationship.
Along with spilled alcohol, a search of Maura Murray’s car found most of her belongings, but her debit cards, credit cards, and cellphone were missing.
Six days after Maura disappeared, a massive search was launched involving tracking dogs, helicopters, trained searchers, local and state police, and state fish and game officials.
The search covered a 20-mile area along Rt. 112. Not a single footprint was found in the snow. It was almost as if she literally disappeared into thin air. The tracking dogs lost Maura’s scent about 100 feet from the accident, in the middle of the road, which suggests that Maura either thumbed a ride, kept walking, or she was abducted.
There are four predominant theories in the Maura Murray case.
- She went to the mountains to commit suicide.
- She left to start a new life.
- She died of exposure.
- She was abducted.
Shortly after the accident on February 9, a witness claimed to have seen Maura walking several miles from the crash site.
Most people believe she was picked up by an opportunistic murderer, but that theory is based only on the fact that the search dogs lost her scent in the middle of the road.
Some think Maura may have been stunned by the crash, so she ran into the woods to avoid law enforcement, but she became disoriented and got lost and died from the elements. After all, it was her second car accident in two days.
Others believe she had been contemplating suicide and the car accident only solidified her resolve.
Whatever happened to Maura, it seemed that she wanted to get as far away from the crash site as possible, as quickly as possible.
In February 2019, on the 15th anniversary of Maura’s disappearance, Fred Murray announced a potential lead in the case. He’d been granted access to a home near the crash scene where two cadaver dogs hit on an area in the basement. Up until that point, the homeowners wouldn’t even open the door to Fred.
Finally, after 15 years, the property owners relented and allowed the dogs to sniff around. Both dogs picked up a scent in the same area.
Investigators searched the home in April 2019, but to the disappointment of Maura’s family and friends, there was no sign of Maura or of a crime. Law enforcement went as far as cutting up chunks of concrete in search of Maura, but their efforts didn’t produce any evidence of a crime. Ground-penetrating radar showed the ground had been disturbed, but no body had been buried there.
Rumors concerning the whereabouts of Maura Murray have swirled over the past 16 years, including that someone took the nursing student to a party and drugged her and then buried her in the basement.
There is also a theory that someone met Maura to pick her up to take her to Canada so she could start a new life. This theory comes from investigative journalist James Renner. He does not believe she met with foul play. If correct, his theory would explain how Maura was able to disappear so quickly after the bus driver came across her wrecked car.
“The only way this could have happened was if Maura knew the driver and there was no time wasted for conversation… Enter the tandem driver, who would have been driving ahead of Maura. If they were ahead and saw the accident in their rearview, and were past Bradley Hill Road, the next place they could turn around was Route 116. It takes approximately seven minutes to drive to Route 116 and back to the scene of the [collision].”
Renner believes it’s possible that she ran away to protect herself and an unborn baby, but what would she have needed to protect her unborn child from?
“ [She] ran away to survive. To protect herself and, if the police are correct, her baby. And talk about a motive to remain quiet for 11 years — can you get anything better than protecting a kid? What wouldn’t you do? That’s certainly one way to avoid any custody troubles.”
Additionally, Renner claims to have received an e-mail purporting to be from “someone from Maura’s inner circle.”
In the e-mail, the author claimed to have spoken to someone at a bar who heard a completely different version of what happened to Maura Murray. According to the e-mail, Maura wasn’t suicidal or pregnant; she wanted to get away from her abusive boyfriend.
“He then started talking to me about the missing girl who had gone to West Point and then to UMass. I hadn’t heard about it at the time and he explained to me what I now know is the [Maura Murray] case. He told me that it was an open secret among people who knew her personally at U-Mass that she ran off on her own to get away from an abusive relationship. He said that he knew people that knew her and that had been in on the whole thing.”
Some say Maura is alive and well, living in Quebec, Canada, and her family is aware of it. This statement allegedly came from a friend of Maura’s. However, skeptics point out that it’s unlikely Maura’s father would insist his daughter was abducted if he knew where she was. And why would he stand by and allow someone’s basement to be torn to shreds if he knew his daughter wasn’t there?
Back to James Renner for a moment.
The journalist also claims to have received an e-mail with the subject “Stop Looking” from someone named Ray Rummau — an anagram of Maura Murray — containing only the coordinates to the north slope of Mt. Carrigain, specifically the Desolation Trail area. Obviously, Renner theorizes the coordinates lead to Maura’s body. Volunteers went to search the area but had to turn back due to heavy snow.
Then, there is the love triangle theory.
Maura had allegedly been engaged to U.S. Army Lieutenant Bill Rausch at the same time she was dating Hossein Baghdadi, the assistant coach of the UMass track team.
According to Renner, detectives had a chat with Baghdadi after Maura’s disappearance and he told them that Murray had dropped hints that she planned to disappear during a private conversation. If his tale is to be believed, Maura was going to a cabin owned by the UMass Outing Club in the White Mountains, and Baghdadi frequently joined the club on similar trips.
The “112dirtbag” Video
If you’ve spent any time watching creepy videos on YouTube, then you might have seen one posted by someone with the moniker “112dirtbag.”
On February 8, 2012, “112 dirtbag” uploaded a hair-raising video of an anonymous man laughing maniacally in a dark room.
Maura’s dad has said in the past that he believes his daughter was kidnapped by “some dirtbags.” Maura went missing along Rt. 12. The person who posted the video had clearly been keeping up-to-date on the case and modeled his username after those details.
The creep (pardon me, LOSER) in the video has never been identified, but Fred hasn’t given up.
“The case has to stay alive… That’s the only hope I have. I can’t help Maura now. The only thing I can do for Maura is to grab the dirtbag who grabbed her. That’s all I can do. I must find her and bring her home.”
You can find one of 112dirtbag’s videos below. Two others were deleted from YouTube, but the awesome dudes at True Crime Garage (my favorite true crime podcast!) saved them and posted them on their website.
Even if Maura Murray is alive and well and the 112dirtbag videos were just hoaxes, the videos are still disturbing because some toothless imbecile thought it would be amusing to torment Maura’s family and friends.
It has been almost 16 years since Maura was last seen alive. Unlike many others who have gone missing, there is a solid chance that she walked away deliberately and is out there somewhere, leading a new life she created.
As in every missing person case, someone knows something. The question is, are they being silent to protect the new life that Maura Murray built for herself, or are they being silent because they’ve done something wrong, and they are protecting themself?