Officials said a search of a basement in a New Hampshire property turned up no evidence in the case of missing woman Maura Murray, who vanished just over 15 years ago.
Murray, a 21-year-old University of Massachusetts-Amherst nursing student, left campus on Feb. 9, 2004, after lying to professors about a death in the family. She drove north to New Hampshire and was last seen shortly after crashing her car into a snowbank on Route 112, a road in Haverhill that leads to the White Mountain National Forest.
Fred Murray, the missing woman’s father, has held out hope of finding out what happened to his daughter.
“Anybody that ever had a kid in the history of the planet knows how I feel,” Fred Murray told NBC in an interview in February. “It can’t go away.”
Murray told NBC on Wednesday that he was disappointed the search turned up no trace of his daughter.
“This one hurts, because I thought we finally had it,” he said. “This one is worse than the other false alarms and dead ends. I was pretty sure.” The house that was searched is close to where Murray crashed her vehicle.
The previous homeowner denied access to the property, but after the house was sold, the new resident allowed the search.
“I tried to get in there so many times, but the guy never came to the door,” Fred Murray told NBC.
Authorities had searched outside the home soon after Murray disappeared but had not searched inside until this month. The new search was prompted by outside searches using dogs owned by private citizens and a radar scan that suggested the ground had been disturbed, said Associate Attorney General Jeffery Strelzin, according to The Associated Press.
“State Police reviewed the video from those dog searches as well as the results from the ground penetrating radar, and based on that review we determined there was no credible evidence that there was any evidence connected to this case in that home, and certainly no evidence of human remains. There was certainly no probable cause to do any search on that home,” he said. “Despite that, we did contact the homeowners and they graciously gave us consent to search that home.”
Digging in the basement turned up only what might have been a piece of pottery or an old pipe, Strelzin said.
Kurtis Murray, the missing woman’s brother, told WMUR9 that he hoped for a breakthrough in the case.
“There’s always a level of uncertainty with something like this,” said Kurtis Murray. “I am optimistic that we may have finally found her. That’s the only thing I can pray for. But it’s a waiting game at this point. It’s tough, because answers are hard to come by. We can only be told so much, and that’s been the story for 15 years.”
Kurtis Murray was cited by Valley News as saying he believes someone “grabbed” his sister after the crash and “then it went terribly wrong.”
“We are hoping for answers,” he added.
What’s Known About Murray’s Disappearance
Maura Murray’s family and some investigators believe she just wanted to get away for a few days. 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 crash.
A few days before she disappeared, she was working her security job at UMass-Amherst when the phone rang, and she burst into tears. The caller and the subject of the call remain unknown.
After the crash, a couple who lived nearby called police. A school bus driver who also lived nearby asked her if she wanted him to call police. She said no, but he called anyway. By the time officers arrived, she was gone.
Strelzin said such cases typically have periods of dormancy and activity, and this one has been particularly active in the last year or so.
“This case has generated a tremendous amount of activity, some of which you’d maybe call wild speculation. But regardless, the state police and our law enforcement partners have continued to follow up on every single lead, and we encourage people to contact us with information,” he said. “Sometimes people think, maybe the police already know that but we encourage people to contact us.”
“It certainly is a drain on resources, at times, to have to follow what really seem to be purely speculative leads and things like that,” said Strelzin, as cited by New Hampshire Public Radio. He added that regardless of how solid the clues have been, “The state police and our office have continued to follow up on all the leads in this case.”
Murray said he won’t give up, but he needs more help to continue his own investigations.
“I’ll stick my nose back on the trail,” he said. “It’s all I can do.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.