Saturday marked 15 years to the day since Maura Murray disappeared, and her family and supporters held a vigil near the spot on a rural road in the small New Hampshire town where she was last seen.
The 21-year-old Hanson, Mass., native was a student at UMass Amherst when she crashed her car along Wild Ammonoosuc Road in Woodsville on Feb. 9, 2004, and was not seen again.
Family and friends held the “Light Up the Sky for Maura” event near the spot where Murray’s car crashed, said Scott Wahl, a volunteer who is helping to organize Saturday’s vigil. The location is now marked with a blue ribbon tied to a tree.
About 20 to 40 people were expected at the vigil, which was scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m., he said.
Supporters who couldn’t attend were encouraged to post photographs online of lit candles in honor of Maura Murray, according to a Facebook post for the vigil.
On Twitter and Facebook Saturday night, dozens of users posted images of candles that were tagged with Maura’s name.
“While 2018 was definitely a year of progress, we are hopeful that 2019 will be THE year that we get a break in the case! Thank you all for your steadfast determination in helping to keep Maura’s case alive!” the Facebook post said.
Shortly after Maura crashed her car on Wild Ammonoosuc Road, a man who lived nearby stopped and offered assistance, but Maura waved him off. The man called policeto report the crash, and when a cruiser arrived minutes later, the car was locked and she was gone.
Maura’s father, Fred Murray, told the Globe in a recent interview that cadaver dogs and radar technology detected human remains in the basement of a home near the crash site late last year, he said.
Murray said he believes that a man who lived in the home at the time of the crash, as well as the man’s family members who lived nearby, were responsible for his daughter’s death.
The current homeowner, whom Murray declined to identify, wasn’t living there when Maura disappeared, and allowed a search. Murray wants law enforcement to investigate further so any evidence discovered is properly handled.
“I can’t even bring her home and bury her. I got to leave her in somebody’s cold, stinking cellar where she’s been murdered,” Murray said.
Jeffery A. Strelzin, the associate state attorney general in New Hampshire, has said the case remains “open and active.”
Organizers of Saturday’s vigil hope the public support will help to move the investigation forward, Wahl said.
“The more people who are talking about it, the better things go,” he said.
Among those who have gone to New Hampshire for Saturday’s vigil is Wahl, who traveled from Virginia to offer his support to Maura’s family.
Wahl, 42, has volunteered for the past decade running social media accounts related to Maura’s case. Tipsters over the years have used that online presence to send information, which is passed along to investigators, he said.
More than 11,000 people on Facebook follow the official Maura Murray account, which posts news on the investigation.
Wahlsaid when he learned about Maura’s disappearance from a TV documentary about the case, it resonated with him because he was close to Maura’s age when she disappeared.
Now Wahl is the father of three children, he said.
“It’s gut wrenching. I can’t imagine having a child go missing,” Wahl said.Travis Anderson of the Globe staff contributed to this report. John Hilliard can be reached at email@example.com.