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Investigators find no evidence in search of Haverhill, N.H., home in missing student case

Maura Murray.
Maura Murray.(Murray family via Associated Press/File)

New Hampshire state troopers and FBI agents on Wednesday searched a home in Haverhill, N.H., as part of an ongoing probe into the 2004 disappearance of Maura Murray, a 21-year-old Hanson, Mass., native who vanished after crashing her car in Haverhill.

But shortly after 3 p.m. Wednesday, New Hampshire Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeffery Strelzin told reporters that investigators had found “no evidence of human remains” during the search of the residence on Wild Ammonoosuc Road in Haverhill.

The home is located near the scene of Murray’s 2004 car crash.

Strelzin said investigators searched the basement area where ground-penetrating radar, financed by private citizens, had detected a disturbance last November.

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On Wednesday, Strelzin said, investigators removed concrete in the basement area and searched “several feet down,” finding only a small piece of pottery or old piping.

In February of this year, Strelzin said, State Police dogs trained in detecting human remains went through the home and found nothing. He said the investigation into Murray’s disappearance “has been continuing and will continue.”

Murray’s father, Fred Murray, told the Globe in February that cadaver dogs and radar technology, financed by people supporting him, last November detected human remains in the basement of the residence that authorities searched Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Murray, said he’s not satisfied with the authorities’ conclusions.

‘‘You dug down today, but did you dig in toward the corner of the wall?’’ he said. ‘‘What I’m unsure of at this point, given the fact that our dogs — accredited dogs — is it possible they’re both wrong? It’s unlikely, isn’t it?’’

Murray said Wednesday’s news was harder than previous incidents when seemingly promising leads didn’t pan out.

‘‘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.’’

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In the years since Murray vanished, Attorney General Gordon MacDonald’s office said Wednesday, “numerous searches of the area at and around the accident scene have been conducted by law enforcement authorities and private citizens, with no positive results. One of the areas searched over the years included a single-family home, located not far from Ms. Murray’s accident scene.”

Murray was a student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst when she crashed her 1996 Saturn on a sharp turn on Wild Ammonoosuc Road.

When a passerby stopped and offered help, Murray waved him off, telling him that AAA had been summoned. The man, who lived nearby, drove off and called police, reporting the crash and her location.

There was no sign of her when a police cruiser arrived about 10 minutes later.

Fred Murray said he had dinner with his daughter two days before her disappearance, on Saturday, Feb. 7, 2004. Hours later, at 3:30 a.m., Maura Murray was at the wheel of her father’s new Toyota when she struck some guardrails in Hadley, causing $10,000 worth of damage. By Monday, Feb. 9, she had used her computer to search for directions to the Berkshires and Burlington, Vt.

She withdrew $280 from her bank account and e-mailed a professor that she had to miss some upcoming classes because of a death in the family, though there had been no such death. She told them she was needed back in Hanson. Instead, she stopped at a liquor store. Wine was found in her car after she disappeared. By 7 p.m., the locked vehicle was found in the snowbank near a stand of pine trees on Route 112 in Haverhill, about a 3½-hour drive north of Boston.

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Why she fabricated a story about a death in her family and searched for directions to the Berkshires and Vermont hasn’t been made clear.

“I feel like I’m all alone and there’s nothing to reach out and grasp,” Fred Murray said in February of this year, regarding the anguish he’s felt during his 15-year search for answers.


Material from the Globe archives was used in this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.