We have seen missing person cases end in all different ways. Sometimes, someone just wants to disappear and start a new life. Other times, someone gets kidnapped and needs to be rescued. In the most tragic cases, the body is found dead, but the only thing worse is not finding the body at all. Their loved ones are unable to give them a proper burial or get closure from this heartbreaking loss.
Maura Murray was a beautiful 21-year-old nursing student. She stunned her loved ones on February 9, 2004, when she packed up her dorm room, took some money out of her account, emailed her professors to notify them that she wouldn’t be attending class for the next week because of a death in the family, and then hopped into her 1996 black Saturn and vanished.
The Car Accident
The Haverhill, New Hampshire police said that Maura’s car crashed into a tree on wild Ammonoosuc Road in Woodsville, NH, at 7:27 p.m., and authorities arrived at the scene by 7:45 p.m. The responding officer noted that “evidence at the scene indicated the vehicle had been eastbound and had gone off the roadway, struck some trees, spun around and came to rest facing the wrong way in the eastbound lane.”
There was clear damage to the driver’s side, front end, front passenger side, rear driver’s side, and rear passenger side of the car.
Don’t Call the Cops
The windshield was also cracked; the car was locked, but Maura was nowhere near the scene. A local bus driver, who was a witness to the crash, said the car had been driven by a young woman who told him not to report the accident, but he called 911 anyway.
Investigators immediately believed that there was alcohol involved. A box of Franzia wine could be seen in the passenger’s seat, and there was red liquid all over the driver’s side door and also on the ceiling of the vehicle. The responding officer found a coke bottle “that contained a red liquid with a strong alcoholic odor” before the car was towed away.
A Beloved Girl
Okay, so let’s start from the beginning. On May 4, 1982, Fred and Laurie Murray brought their daughter Maura into the world. She was a track star in high school, but she was also intelligent and a good student. The smart, athletic teen had her whole life in front of her.
The bright, young girl went on to study chemical engineering at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. She eventually transferred to the University of Massachusetts (UMass), and that’s when she decided to switch her major and study nursing instead.
Getting in Trouble
Although she was bright and talented, nobody’s life is trouble-free, and Maura was no exception. Back in 2003, she got herself into a little bit of trouble when she was arrested in Amherst for using a credit card Basically, she used a stolen credit card in different stores and restaurants around town.
When she was confronted for her actions, Maura admitted to getting the credit card number from the bottom of a receipt and copying it down on a piece of paper. Maura got lucky, and the charge was dismissed due to her honesty and good behavior.
On February 7, 2004, Maura’s father, Fred, met up with his daughter to help her look for a new car. Afterward, he returned to the Quality Inn, where he was staying, and then went to dinner at the Amherst Brewing Company.
At about 9 o’clock that evening, Maura and Fred when to pick up Maura’s friend Kate, and the three of them went back to Amherst Brewing company to grab some drinks. Maura and Kate made a quick stop at a liquor store before taking Fred back to the Quality Inn for the night.
Crashing Her Dad’s Car
Maura and her friend went out to a party but then crashed her dad’s car. Fred had to rent another car, pick up his daughter, and then at around 1:30 p.m., he dropped her back off on campus. It sounds like a long night. My dad would have been so mad if I crashed his car, but Maura seemed to get off lucky.
On February 8, Maura told her dad that she went around, hit some sand, and the car skidded. She told him that she hadn’t had anything to drink in a while, and it looked like he believed her. Maura wasn’t given a breathalyzer or a ticket.
February 9 – Maura’s Strange Behavior
With a snowstorm approaching the area on February 9, classes at the university were closed for the day. Maura emailed her professors and her work supervisor to let them know that there was a death in her family and that she would be leaving for a week.
But then Maura drove to an ATM, where she withdrew $280. Then, she headed to the liquor store and spent 40 bucks on Bailey’s Kahlua, vodka, and a box of Franzia red wine. She stopped at the Amherst DMA to pick up all the insurance paperwork for her dad’s car – which had been damaged in the accident the day before.
There Was No Death in the Family
Then, at 4:37 p.m., she called her own voicemail, then packed her car up, and was off on her mysterious trip. But at 7:27 p.m., Maura crashed the car. The only clue that was found at the scene was a printout of MapQuest directions to a condo complex in Burlington, Vermont.
A look at Maura’s cellphone records revealed that she had called the owner of the condos which he was looking to rent out. Naturally, with nothing else to go on, police assumed that’s where she was headed. But no one she knew was aware of these plans.
An Official Missing Person
The next day, Maura was declared a missing person; that’s when law enforcement found out that she had packed up her dorm. On top of one of the boxes, police discovered a typed letter to her boyfriend explaining their relationship problems in detail.
But the strange part of this case is that there is no trace of Maura. There were a lot of hints that were difficult to place together. Did it have to do with a boyfriend? Was she a runaway? Or was she abducted and tortured somewhere, waiting to be saved?
Launching a Huge Search
Other than spilled alcohol all over the place, a search of Maura’s car found most of her things, but her cellphone, debit cards, and credit cards were all missing. A massive search was launched six days after her disappearance. It involved helicopters, tracking dogs, trained searchers, local and state police, and state fish and game officials.
The search covered a 20-mile area along Rt. 112. But not one single footprint was found in the snow; it was as if she literally vanished into thin air. The tracking dog lost the missing girl’s scent about 100 feet from the crash scene in the middle of the road. This suggests that Maura either caught a ride, continued walking, or was abducted.
When it comes to the strange and mysterious case of Maura Murray, there are four main theories: She went into the mountains to take her own life; she left to start a new life; she died of exposure, or she was abducted.
Not long after the February 9th accident, a witness said they saw Maura walking a few miles from the crash site. Many people think she was picked up by a murderer and was a victim of opportunity. However, the only basis for that theory is that dogs lost her scent in the middle of the road.
Suicide in the Woods?
Some people think Maura was so scared by the accident that she ran into the woods to avoid the police, but she got disoriented, got lost, and then died from exposure to the elements. This theory makes the most sense because she did have alcohol on her. Plus, it was her second car accident in two days.
But other theories suggest that she had been contemplating suicide and the car accident solidified her decision. No matter what happened to Maura, it’s clear that she wanted to get as far away from the crash and fast as she could.
Fifteen Years Later
When February 2019 rolled around, it was the 15th anniversary of Maura’s strange disappearance, and Fred Maury revealed that there is a new potential lead in his daughter’s case. He was granted access to a home not far from the crash, where two cadaver dogs hit an area in the basement.
Up until this point, the homeowners would never even open the door and speak to Fred. But after 15 years, the property owners gave up and allowed the dogs to come sniff around. As it turned out, both dogs picked up a scent in the exact same area.
What’s in the Basement?
In April 2019, investigators were able to search the home. But to everyone’s disappointment, there was no sign of Maura or any type of crime. Authorities went as far as to cut up parts of the concrete to look for Maura and did everything in their power to finally bring Maura home.
Unfortunately, their efforts didn’t bring any evidence of a crime. Ground-penetrating radar proved the ground was disturbed; however, no body had ever been buried there. But for the past 16 years, rumors swirled concerning the whereabouts of Maura Murray.
Rumors and Gossip
One of these rumors indicated that the nursing student was taken to a party, drugged, and then buried in the basement. More gossip suggested that Maura met up with someone who was picking her up to take her to Canada to start a new life.
Investigative journalist James Renner actually came up with this theory. He doesn’t believe that Maura endured any foul play. If he is correct, this theory would surely explain why the young girl was able to vanish so quickly after the bus driver found her wrecked car.
Renner Has His Own Theories
Renner said: “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 that Maura ran away to protect herself and her unborn baby. But what does she need to protect her unborn baby from?
Maybe She Was Pregnant?
The journalist continued, “[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.”
Renner also claims to have gotten an email that was apparently “someone from Maura’s inner circle.” The person who wrote the email said they spoke to someone at a bar who had a different version of what happened to Maura. She wasn’t suicidal or pregnant; she was actually trying to escape an abusive boyfriend.
The Bizarre Email
In Renner’s words, the person who wrote the email continued: “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 UMass, and 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 a whole thing.”
A New Life in Canada
So, all different theories and rumors were swirling. Other folks believe that Maura is alive and well, living in Quebec, Canada. It has also been said that her family is also fully aware of it. Allegedly, this statement came from Maura’s friend.
But there are many skeptics out there who point out that it is highly unlikely that Maura’s dad would insist his child was abducted if he knew where she was. And why would he stand by while someone’s basement was getting destroyed if he knew that Maura wasn’t even there?
From Ray Rymmau
But let’s get back to investigative journalist James Renner for a moment. He also claimed that he received an email with the subject saying, “Stop Looking.” The email came from the name Ray Rymmau, which is an anagram of Maura Murray.
It contained the coordinates to the north slope of Mt. Carrigain, specifically the Desolation Trail area. Obviously, Renner thinks the coordinates lead to Maura Murray’s body. Many volunteers searched the area, but they had to turn back before they could find anything because of the heavy snow.
Love Triangle Theory
But then, yet another theory came to light. This one is the love triangle theory. Allegedly, Maura was engaged to U.S. Army Lieutenant Bill Rausch. During that same time, she was also dating the assistant coach of the UMass track tram, Hossein Baghdadi.
Reportedly, when detectives spoke to Baghdadi after Maura went missing, he told them that during some private conversations, she had been dropping hints that she planned on disappearing. If his story is true, Maura was going to a cabin owned by the UMass Outing Club in the White Mountains. Baghdadi often went on similar trips.
The “112dirtbag” Video
If you spent your time watching spooky videos on YouTube, then chances are you have seen one posted by someone with the screen name “112dirtbag.” On February 8, 2012, 112dirtbag posted a chilling video of an anonymous person laughing creepily in a dark room.
Maura’s father had previously stated that he thinks his daughter was kidnapped by “some dirtbags.” Maura vanished along Rt. 12. The individual who posted the video was clearly staying updated on the case and created his username after some of those details.
Keeping the Case Alive
The online creep who was in that video was never been identified, but Fred isn’t giving up so easily. He said: “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 search 112dirtbag’s video if you are interested. It is available on YouTube, while two other videos he posted were deleted by the platform. But if you check out my favorite true-crime podcast, True Crime Garage, the awesome people over there saved and posted them to their website.
Where Is Maura?
It should be noted that the 112dirtbag videos were a hoax. I mean, the username was just a coincidence, or maybe someone who knew about the case wanted to mess with the investigation. It is no way proves that Maura is dead or held somewhere against her will.
It’s been over 16 years since Maura Murray was last seen alive. But unlike other missing person cases, there is a big chance that she walked away knowingly and that she is somewhere out there living a new life that she created.
There Is Still Hope
But if she was actually abducted, there is still some hope. I mean, there are miraculous stories of abducted victims who were found years or even decades later. Just look at the Jaycee Dugard case or the girls freed from Ariel Castro’s house.
Like in every missing person case, somebody out there knows something. The real question is, why are they staying silent? Is it to protect Maura and the new life she is living? Or perhaps they are keeping their mouth shut because they did something wrong and are scared to get in trouble.