Reward may soon be offered in cold case of missing UMass student

  • Journalist and UMass Amherst graduate Maggie Freleng, right, talks with former U.S. Marshal Art Roderick about the case of Maura Murray, a UMass Amherst nursing student who disappeared without a trace in 2004. Frelend recently launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to be used to offer a reward for information. Oxygen Media

  • This Feb. 4, 2014, photo shows a missing person poster of Maura Murray that hangs in the lobby of the police station in Haverhill, New Hampshire. Journalist and University of Massachusetts Amherst graduate Maggie Freleng recently launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to be used to offer a reward for information. ap photo

Staff Writer
Thursday, June 07, 2018

AMHERST — Reward money will soon be offered for people with knowledge about the whereabouts of Maura Murray, a University of Massachusetts nursing student who disappeared without a trace after traveling from the flagship campus to New Hampshire in 2004.

New York-based journalist Maggie Freleng, who served as the host of Oxygen channel’s six-part series “The Disappearance of Maura Murray” last fall, recently launched a GoFundMe campaign.

“We think this is the best way to get information that will lead to Maura Murray,” Freleng said.

The funding page “Finding Maura Murray” is at https://www.gofundme.com/find-maura-murray

Freleng said the goal is to raise $10,000, with most of this being dedicated to offering a reward that may inspire someone to come forward with more information.

A portion of this money will also be used to pay for ground-penetrating radar on properties in Haverhill, New Hampshire, including what is known as the A-frame home, where human blood was found, and where it’s possible human remains have been buried.

“The properties we’re looking at are very promising. They’re the biggest sources of speculation,” Freleng said.

She put the GoFundMe together with long-time investigator Art Roderick, and Tim Pilleri and Lance Reenstierna, hosts of the “Missing Maura Murray” podcast.

They decided to establish the fundraising page after participating in the CrimeCon event in Nashville, Tennessee in early May, a gathering of thousands of people interested in real-life crime, some who have missing loved ones. With four panels, the Murray case was only surpassed by those at the event to discuss the Golden State Killer, Freleng said.

It was evident that Murray’s disappearance captivates people.

“So many people from around the world were coming up to me at CrimeCon and asked about Maura and knew her story,” Freleng said.

Freleng said there are two mysteries with Murray. First, when she crashed her car into a snowbank, Murray was more than 100 miles from campus, and she’d withdrawn all her money from her bank account. Second, once the crash occurred, Murray was never seen or heard from again.

Freleng, who is a UMass graduate, works professionally as a public radio producer, but in the two years she has been on the case, all of her free time and vacations have been focused on the Murray affair.

“I expected to do the show and then expected to move on with my life,” Freleng said.

Now she makes regular visits to New Hampshire, staying in the community as time allows and remaining in touch with Murray’s family.

“I gave a commitment to the family to get answers,” Freleng said.

Despite Freleng’s diligence, none of Murray’s classmates, a coach or her closest friends have been willing to talk, and aside from UMass Police, there has been little cooperation from the university.

“UMass wasn’t thrilled with us being on campus,” Freleng said.

But she was able to get photos of her dormitory room that were shown at CrimeCon, which indicates to her that Murray had intended to return to campus.

“It’s pretty evident that it was not a packed-up room,” Freleng said.

Once reward money is ready, Freleng will post flyers near the scene of Murray’s disappearance.

Freleng said she feels that while the case had been pretty cold it is now active again, and “boots on the ground” has made a difference in getting more information.

“Our belief is police have a person of interest and are just waiting to make their move,” Freleng said.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.