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Oxygen channel wraps up six-episode series on woman who disappeared from a Haverhill road in 2004

UPDATE, on Friday afternoon: Oxygen has cleaned up the blog post in question below after an inquiry from NHPR. Here’s our post from Thursday afternoon, shortly before 3:

The Oxygen channel recently wrapped up a six-episode “docu-series” on Maura Murray, who disappeared in Haverhill in February 2004 when she was a student at UMass-Amherst. She was driving on Route 112 for unknown reasons and crashed her car in the snow.

Members of the New Hampshire State Police, Fish and Game officers and search and rescue personnel tag an area while looking for evidence of missing college student Maura Murray in Haverhill, N.H., on July 13, 2004. (Valley News – Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

I haven’t watched any of the episodes, but people interviewed include members of Maura’s family, investigators and Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeffery Strelzin.

After the finale aired on Saturday, the show published a blog post that claimed that the “Maura Murray case has been reopened,” but in an email exchange this afternoon, Strelzin disputed that characterization.

“That is not accurate,” he said. “The case has never been closed, so it can’t be ‘reopened.’ “

I asked about some of the other claims made in the network’s blog post, including claims about the results of blood tests on “wood chips” collected at a home near the crash site showing the DNA of a man and another unidentifiable person, and assertions that state investigators are “going back and re-interviewing everybody” and “going back to the very beginning, looking at all the forensics, re-examining everything from day one on.”

Here’s what Strelzin had to say about that:

Since this is an open case, I can’t tell you the specifics of what we do in any investigation or plan to do.


As far as the pieces of wood, they are not so (much) “wood chips,” as just slivers of wood. As for the DNA report, the results are so non-specific as to have no real investigative value.

So, with all that in mind, if you want to watch, you can do so online here. Some appear to be available to the general public, while the first two episodes are asking me to log in to a cable provider account (such as Xfinity, DIRECTV, etc.).

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Here’s an article that appeared in the Valley News in April 2013, in which Concord Monitor reporter Jeremy Blackman talked to Maura’s father, Fred Murray, nine years after her disappearance.

Man Continues Long Search for Daughter Lost in Haverhill

By Jeremy Blackman
Concord Monitor

Published in the VALLEY NEWS on April 7, 2013.

Fred Murray is running out of options.

Nine years ago, his 21-year-old daughter, Maura, vanished from a dark, snowy stretch of Route 112 in Haverhill. It happened in an instant: One minute the Massachusetts college student was spotted near a crashed, crumpled black Saturn sedan; a few minutes later, when a local police officer arrived on the scene, she was gone.

In the years, months and days since, Murray has been scrambling to piece together what happened that night in those pivotal, awful minutes.

In the beginning, there was hope. Tips and leads streamed in, search dogs were unleashed, helicopters took to the air. Sightings were reported to authorities — inside a church in Vermont, at a convenience store in central New Hampshire, at a bar in Rochester — but never confirmed. The FBI questioned college acquaintances. Local and national news outlets published stories about the disappearance, about the strange personal events leading up to it, about Fred’s disdain for the New Hampshire police’s handling of the initial search. Fred went on daytime television to discuss the case. Strangers on the Internet theorized endlessly about Maura’s fate: Had she been kidnapped, murdered? Was it suicide? Did she freeze to death in the woods or run away to a new life? Is she still alive?  (more…)