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Author Topic: Newspaper Articles  (Read 2447 times)

MauraMurrayEvidence

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Newspaper Articles #192
« Reply #195 on: December 15, 2019, 08:44:32 am »
The Caledonian-Record

(INCOMPLETE?)

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Housing, Food And Water Needed

Canine Teams To Search For Maura Murray

By Gary E. Lindsley

Housing, gas cards, food and water are being sought for canine teams that will be searching for Maura Murray. Murray disappeared after a Feb. 9, 2004, car crash in Haverhill, N.H. About five or six canine teams will be searching a large area around the crash site Oct. 21-22, said John M. Healy of Warner, N.H. Warner and other volunteer investigators began working on Murray's disappearance in late 2005.

The canine teams will concentrate on a few sites, including several areas around French Pond Road. Healy said one of the areas the teams will search is a very large sand pit at the Morrill Construction site. "I could bury 3,000 bodies in there," he said.

If you wish to help this effort contact:

John M. Healy

603-746-4994

Benjamin S. McDonald

603-759-2340

MauraMurrayEvidence

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Newspaper Articles #193
« Reply #196 on: December 15, 2019, 08:45:03 am »
Boston Globe

(INCOMPLETE?)

October 4, 2006

Dog teams to search where Maura Murray last seen

HAVERHILL, N.H. --Volunteer investigators with dogs hope to search the area where college student Maura Murray disappeared after crashing her car into a snowbank more than two years ago.

Murray, who was 21 and a student at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst when she got into a minor accident on Route 112, has not been seen since the night of Feb. 9, 2004, when a man who lived nearby offered to get her help. He has said she declined.

MauraMurrayEvidence

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Newspaper Articles #194
« Reply #197 on: December 15, 2019, 08:45:31 am »
New Hampshire Union Leader

October 4, 2006

In Brief - Maura Murray search continues Oct. 21

HAVERHILL -- Volunteer private investigators and K-9 handlers are teaming up on Saturday, Oct. 21, to search the area where Maura Murray disappeared more than two years ago.

Volunteers from the New Hampshire League of Investigators are asking for donations such as bottled water, drinks, snacks, meals and lunches to support the effort. They are also asking for lodging and gas cards, to be used by owners of the out-of-state K-9 search dogs and their family members.

Property owners near the location where Murray disappeared are also asked to provide access and cooperation during the effort.

Murray disappeared in Februrary 2004 after a minor automobile accident. Anyone interested in helping out is urged to contact John Healy at 746-4994 or Benjamin McDonald at 759-2340.

MauraMurrayEvidence

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Newspaper Articles #195
« Reply #198 on: December 15, 2019, 08:45:51 am »
New Hampshire Sunday News

October 15, 2006

No link seen to Maura Murray disappearance

New Hampshire State Police don't think the murder of a Vermont college student this month is connected with a missing Massachusetts student whose abandoned car was found in northern New Hampshire in February 2004.

"I believe someone is looking into that, but they don't believe it has anything to do with that," said a state police dispatcher.

Maura Murray, a University of Massachusetts student from Hanson, Mass., disappeared in February 2004 after a minor car accident on Route 112 in Woodsville several miles from the Vermont border.

In the recent Vermont case, the body of missing University of Vermont student Michelle Gardner-Quinn was found Friday in Richmond, Vt., near Burlington.

Meanwhile, private investigators and K-9 dog handlers volunteering their help plan next weekend to search the area of Murray's disappearance.

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Newspaper Articles #196
« Reply #199 on: December 15, 2019, 08:46:19 am »
Boston Globe

October 23, 2006

Dog teams hunt for missing student

Specially trained dogs searched over the weekend for a student from University of Massachusetts at Amherst who disappeared in February 2004 after crashing her car on Route 112. But the cadaver-sniffing dogs failed to find Maura Murray. Donations helped pay for the search by volunteer dog handlers in the Woodsville area. Private investigators also have been working on the case of the 22-year-old Hanson, Mass., woman. Don Nason of the New Hampshire League of Investigators said the dogs picked up some scents, but nothing conclusive.

Unknown Publication, cited as the Boston Globe, with variations

Search dogs fail to find Maura Murray, missing 2 years

HAVERHILL, N.H. --Specially trained dogs searched over the weekend for a college student in the area where she disappeared after crashing her car in Haverhill (New Hampshire).

But the cadaver-sniffing dogs failed to find Maura Murray, who was last seen near the crash site on Route 112 two-and-a-half years ago.

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Newspaper Articles #197
« Reply #200 on: December 15, 2019, 08:46:44 am »
The Caledonian-Record

Monday, October 23, 2006

K-9 Teams Search For Student Who Disappeared In 2004 - Family Of Maura Murray Want Closure

By Gary E. Lindsley

Haverhill, N.H. -- Nearly 2 1/, the family and friends of a missing Massachusetts woman released blue balloons and tacked a big blue bow to a tree in hopes she would be found.

As police K-9 teams searched for Maura Murray on Saturday, that blue bow was still tacked to the tree her car struck on Route 112 the night of Feb. 9, 2004, a stark reminder that she is still missing.

The hope that Murray is still alive is waning, and family and friends now want closure.

Murray was a 21-year-old University of Massachusetts at Amherst nursing student driving west on Route 112 in Haverhill when she lost control of her black 1996 Saturn as it rounded a sharp left-hand curve near The Weathered Barn and crashed.

Butch Atwood, a school bus driver who lived just up the road from the crash scene, was on his way home in his bus when he found the Saturn off the road.

Atwood said he spoke with Murray and offered to call for help, but she declined. He went to his house to call EMS anyway. When Haverhill Police Sgt. Cecil Smith arrived about 10 minutes later, according to Atwood, Murray was gone.

She has not been seen nor heard from since.

As five K-9 teams searched six areas of interest within 5 miles of the crash scene on Saturday, Maura's sister, Kathleen Carpenter of Hanover, Mass., waited anxiously at a lodge at Mountain Lakes off of French Pond Road.

"I want closure," Carpenter said. "It's every day ... you wake up and wonder. My Mom keeps saying she is going to come home. I know in my heart she won't. Something went wrong."

Carpenter spoke about how she and Maura shared a bedroom together while growing up and used to have the normal sisterly fights, like over clothing.

"She was just like me, very trusting," Carpenter said. "She would go up to a total stranger. That's how I believe she was taken advantage of. She was too trusting."

Police dog teams, including Connecticut Canine Search and Dukes County Search & Rescue from Martha's Vineyard, along with the New Hampshire League of Investigators, volunteered to search for Murray Saturday and Sunday.

"I don't want this to become a cold case," Carpenter said.

Patty Davidson, who is Maura's third cousin and is from Weymouth, Mass., also does not want to give up hope Maura will be found. Yet, she is realistic.

"I think she met up with foul play that night," Davidson said. "She was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Someone picked her up and did her harm."

When Maura's father, Fred Murray, arrived Saturday, he spent some time with the investigators being updated on the searches so far.

Getting a chance to sit down, Fred Murray said he was very impressed with the scope and thoroughness of the search efforts.

"It's coherent and they have a plan and they are marching with it," he said. "It's methodical. I am deeply appreciative of the time and effort of everyone. I think they are motivated by kindness."

Murray was hopeful the weekend's search would rule out some possible sites, including area gravel pits and the Mountain Lakes area.

Don Nason, a member of the New Hampshire League of Investigators, said six areas were chosen, including a wooded area near the search site, because of information Fred Murray and other people have provided. He declined to reveal the areas.

Nason did talk about why they were searching a sand pit. He said it is not far from where Maura had her accident and went missing.

"We are not necessarily looking for Maura's remains, but something that belongs to her," he said. "The important thing is to keep [the investigation] going. If someone knows something but is afraid to open his mouth, give [state police] a call. Or contact [Maura's] Web site."

Murray said he will not stop until he finds out what happened to his daughter on Feb. 9, 2004.

"It just doesn't end [for the families]," he said. "So many people go missing every day all around the country."

A brother-and-sister team, Al and Marian Beland, along with their canines Taz and Tracer, were part of the search teams during the weekend.

The Belands have about 18 years experience in search and rescue between them.

"I think we all have strengths and weaknesses and can use them to help people," Marian Beland said. "I am pretty much like a volunteer fire department. I cannot fight fires, but I can search. I want to put our training to good use."

Al Beland said helping find people is part of his personality.

"It is ingrained," he said. "We just want to help. We train hard and we hopefully can bring closure to some of these cold cases. Hopefully, we can find clues that will lead to the successful termination of the investigation."

Back at the lodge, Carpenter said she, Maura and her family used to camp in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

"I would like to be able to do that again," she said.

Late Sunday afternoon, Nason said the K-9 teams had several hits, but nothing that would warrant forwarding to state police. An area near a dam and a snowmobile corridor in Warren also was searched, he said, but nothing was found and it did not look promising.

Anyone who may have information about Murray is asked to contact the New Hampshire State Police major crimes unit at 603-271-2663 or 800-852-3411.

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Newspaper Articles #198
« Reply #201 on: December 15, 2019, 08:47:06 am »
New Hampshire Union Leader

October 24, 2006

Search dogs fail to find Maura Murray

By Associated Press

Haverhill -- Specially trained dogs searched over the weekend for a University of Massachusetts at Amherst student who disappeared after crashing her car.

But the cadaver-sniffing dogs failed to find Maura Murray, who was last seen near the crash site on Route 112 more than two years ago.

Donations helped pay for the search by volunteer dog handlers in the Woodsville area. Private investigators also have been working on the case.

Don Nason, of the New Hampshire League of Investigators, said the dogs picked up some scents, but nothing conclusive.

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Newspaper Articles #199-Part 1
« Reply #202 on: December 15, 2019, 08:47:41 am »
North Country News

November 2, 2006

(1 of 2)

By Bryan Flagg

The Webster’s Dictionary defines “Closure” as: an act of closing: the condition of being closed - a simple word that the family and friends of Maura Murray desperately want, certainly need and well deserve.

This coming February will mark the 3rd year anniversary of the disappearance of Maura Murray. Maura disappeared on Monday, February 9, 2004 at approximately 7:30 pm following a minor accident on Route 112 near Woodsville, NH. A witness stopped and spoke with Maura then called police from their nearby home and when police arrived about 10 minutes later Maura was missing and remains a missing person to this day.

The Northcountry News was sent a media package and were notified of a search to be held on October 21st and 22nd that would be lead by the NH League of Investigators.

In continuation of this non-stop effort, the NH League of Investigators, in conjunction with the Molly Bish Foundation, the Murray Family, and volunteer K9 search teams- searched various areas in the towns of Woodsville and Haverhill over the weekend.

The K9s, known as cadaver dogs, are trained in finding human remains among a wide variety of other areas of search & rescue. It was stated that some of the dogs can even sniff out and find a human body in water which could be up to 200’ deep.

The NH League of Investigators stated, “The difficult part of this project is realizing that we are not only looking for evidence, but that we are also looking for Maura’s remains. Although it is not the ultimate outcome we all wish for, we would be remiss to not include that possibility and spend a great deal of our time toward this potential outcome. Many qualified people have had input into the current project search area. One major motivating force has been from input received from Dr. Maurice Godwin of Godwin Trial and Forensic Consultancy, Inc., www.investigativepsych.com. Dr. Godwin has been successful in the past in determining geological profiles for deceased missing persons and we are grateful for his input in this case. Please view Dr. Godwin’s website outlining his services and history for more information.”

Aside from the many man hours that the NH State Police, Fish & Game and Haverhill PD have previously spent on the case, volunteers from the NH League of Investigators have spent countless hours working leads and interviewing witnesses as well, turning over all information gathered to the NH State Police Major Crimes Unit.

My wife and I arrived at the Lodge at Mountain Lakes at about 8am on a cold Saturday morning of October 21st. Members from the NH League of Investigators and the volunteer K9 units from The Connecticut Canine Search & Rescue and Duke’s Country Search & Rescue of Martha’s Vineyard were already on site preparing for a busy schedule ahead.

The media was not invited into the lodge right away. Briefings were to be held for members of the search teams first -and security into the building was pretty tight at that point. However, after the briefings had been held and K9 search teams were off to several undisclosed locations, media outlets were very welcomed to go into the Lodge, talk to family members and enjoy a hot coffee or tea and some breakfast.

We have spoken several times to Helena Murray over the past, either via email or on the phone. She has been our initial contact for information in the past. She was the first family member we met Saturday, sat down with several times, and became instant friends with. Helena has basically taken finding Maura on as a full time job at this point and is the driving force behind the “MauraMurray.com” website. She is a fantastic lady who has put her heart and soul into this entire ongoing project.

Helena wrote a wonderful letter about Maura which was published in the Northcountry News back in August of this year. To this day I remember one of the sentences - she wrote, “Maura is so much more than a missing person, Maura is a missed person. She is a daughter, a sister, granddaughter, niece, cousin and friend.” No one has said it any better than that.

We met and talked with several other family members including cousins, friends and Maura’s sister, Kathleen. All of whom were very pleasant and willing to share stories with us about Maura - some funny, some sad and some very moving.

We also met and spent some time with Maura’s father, Fred on Saturday. A person who has been stated in the past as being very hard and negative on the investigation of state and local authorities throughout the searches and investigation.

We found Fred to be a very caring and concerned individual, who is certainly not afraid to state what’s on his mind at the time. “There are simply a lot of questions which have yet to be answered,” he states. “Right from the beginning, things have seemingly been fouled up, this is a missing person, a person who may have met with foul play, and there are so many questions which have not been answered,” he continues. As we are talking, you can see that this is a man who is genuinely frustrated. “All I want is to find my daughter, it’s been over two years now, I just want to find my daughter.”

He is also frustrated with the politics of trying to get records released from the initial investigation, stating that there could be items that the police have under wraps in which family members might just have some insight on, a computer system that may give family members a clue to what may have happened or who she may have been in contact with prior to her disappearance. “Wouldn’t that help the investigation, not hinder it,” he asks. “I simply want some answers,” he states.“ I try to have a positive attitude, I wake up and put one foot in front of the other, in hopes they just might lead me in the right direction.”

His next attempt at getting records released through the NH Court system is set for some time in November.

It remains a missing person case at this point in time, basically due to the fact that there has been no evidence to support foul play. The state and local authorities have been adamant in stating that it is definitely an on-going investigation. Yet, Fred points out that Maura’s vehicle, a black Saturn sits in plain view, unprotected outside of the State Police Troop F facilities in Twin Mountain.

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Newspaper Articles #199-Part 2
« Reply #203 on: December 15, 2019, 08:48:15 am »
North Country News

November 2, 2006

(2 of 2)

By Bryan Flagg

Fred asks, “if the investigation leads law enforcement officials to believe that there was foul play involved, what chain of evidence could they prove on Maura’s car at this point?

It has been sitting outside, not in any locked holding area for quite a long time now!”

“There were things that were done, and things which were not done that you just have to shake your head at and wonder,” states Fred.

Fred did say that he was very pleased with the way the search effort was going, stating that the areas chosen for this search were being searched methodically and thoroughly.

Cadaver dogs and their handlers avidly worked over the two day search. It was a different type of search this time- meaning nobody other than the handlers, their K9s and investigators from the NH League were permitted to follow or search along with them. It was a well planned, well thought out and very direct search. They knew what areas they wanted to look at, had maps and coordinates of those areas -and that’s where they searched.

Although it was stated that the dogs did have several “hits,” it has been stated by Don Nason, an investigator from the NH League of Investigators, that they were not substantial enough to warrant passing on the information to the NH State Police at this time.

Sunday was a different story, we spent much of the day with Fred and several other people at an undisclosed search site in a location well away from Mountain Lakes.

There are several other promising sites scattered around a radius of the Haverhill and Woodsville area. There have been a number of psychics who have been actively involved with the Murray case from the beginning and who have been feeding information to family members and friends along the way.

“Some of the information makes sense and then there’s lots you have to sift through,” states Fred as we walk through an area of woods looking for a sign of anything out of the ordinary.

It is easy to see that searching for his daughter has become an obsession for Fred, who states he owes it to his daughter to keep searching and to find the answers to the many questions which remain after almost three years. “As soon as my feet leave the bed and land on the floor in the morning, it is on my mind,” states Fred. “It just never ends, and I will keep searching until I find out what happened to my daughter.”

After spending several hours in the woods, we head back to where we had started. Nothing new, nothing gained but an area for a future search which gives Fred hope and the incentive to continue forward.

As Fred hops in my truck and I drive him back to pick up his vehicle I can’t help but wonder how he and those closest to Maura have had the strength to carry on for almost three years with no answers at all. A daughter, a sister, a friend who is in your life one moment, and gone without a trace in the next. The things most of us just read about or see on television.

It simply doesn’t seem fair I think to myself as I glance over at Fred, no one should have to go through anything like this. Living each day with this on your mind constantly, searching for that one tip, that one anonymous letter, that one big hit from a cadaver dog, a witness to come forward or anything that might bring just a little more hope in finding Maura.

The Murray Family would like to thank the many people who were involved in the recent search efforts. From the investigators to the K9 Teams and from the people who supplied food to the people who supplied places to stay. “There are no words to thank those who have helped in so many ways, it’s overwhelming,” states Helena Murray. We have had so much support from so many different people.”

They would also like to thank their many supporters in the Haverhill and Woodsville area and especially those who allowed them to search their properties and the surrounding area once again.

If anyone has any information regarding the Maura Murray Case, please contact the NH State Police Major Crimes Unit at 603-271-2663 or 1-800-852-3411.

Publisher’s note: The Northcountry News has committed to the Murray Family in helping in any way possible. Whether it be printing the latest news on the Maura case, or to be there during future search efforts. My wife and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Murray Family for spending a great deal of time with us, for making us feel at home and for allowing us into their lives and thoughts-even if just for a brief moment.

Letter To The Editor Written By Helena Murray As It Appears In The November 3rd Issue Of The Northcountry News I wanted to offer my personal thanks to the residents and business in the area who offered your help, your homes, information and goods and services to aid in the search held for Maura Murray on October 21st and 22nd. The outpouring of help and support was remarkable and overwhelming.

As many of you know by now, we did not find Maura. It is very difficult to reconcile the emotions in that statement. It is both good news and bad news. I can only tell you that we will continue to search for Maura until we find her. Knowing that we now have so many more helping us look gives more hope that she will be found.

We are all so busy with our own jobs, families and lives that the spirit of compassion on such a grand scale is rarely seen today in our society…the compassion and support shown to our family was heartwarming. Not only did we feel welcome, we felt as though we were a part of your community…neighbor, helping neighbor. I have personally spoken to and thanked many of you, and wish I could thank each of you individually, but I realize that I don’t even know everybody who offered or gave help.

I would be remiss if I did not also thank those from the Molly Bish Foundation, the New Hampshire League of Investigators, the Licensed Private Detectives of Massachusetts, Sabre Security, Kenney Communications and so many others who helped to make this search possible. A special thank to those at Mountain Lakes who not only allowed us to use the Lodge, but put up with our comings and goings all weekend.

With respect and thanks,

Helena Murray

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Newspaper Articles #200
« Reply #204 on: December 15, 2019, 08:48:39 am »
Worcester Telegram & Gazette AP State News

(INCOMPLETE?)

About November 14, 2006

Missing woman's father in court seeking police records.

Concord, N.H.-- The father of a missing Massachusetts college student asked the New Hampshire Supreme Court on Tuesday to release police records and evidence in her disappearance.

Maura Murray, 21, was last seen shortly after crashing her car in a snowbank off Route 112 in Haverhill on Feb. 9, 2004.

That was nearly three years ago, and her father, Fred Murray, of Weymouth, Mass., said he is frustrated at the apparent lack of progress in the police investigation - and the state's refusal to share any information with him or private investigators.

"I'm a little angry that it has to come to this, that you have a missing persons case that can remain under investigation for 50 years," he said before the hearing. "It's absolute stonewalling."

Murray's lawyer, Timothy Ervin, argued that while exemptions to the state Right-to-Know Law and the federal Freedom of Information Act allow police to withhold evidence in open investigations, they cannot withhold all 2,500 records indefinitely. He asked that a judge review the records to determine whether some should be released.

"The court has to make a specific showing that disclosure would interfere with the ongoing investigation," he said.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Nancy Smith argued the records, including witness interviews, phone records and police reports, could become critical evidence in a criminal prosecution.

"We empathize and sympathize with Mr. Murray's concern over the disappearance of his daughter," she said.

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Newspaper Articles #201
« Reply #205 on: December 15, 2019, 08:49:21 am »
The New Hampshire Union Leader / Portsmouth Herald / Sun Journal

November 15, 2006

Notes: The Sun Journal article is less complete

By Katharine Webster

Associated Press

CONCORD - The father of a missing Massachusetts college student was at the New Hampshire Supreme Court on Tuesday seeking police records and evidence in her disappearance.

Maura Murray, 21. was last seen shortly after crashing her car in a snowbank off Route 112 in Haverhill on Feb. 9, 2004.

That was nearly three years ago, and her father. Fred Murray, of Weymouth, Mass., said he is frustrated at the apparent lack of progress in the police investigation — and the state’s refusal to share any information with him or private investigators.

“I’m a little angry that it has to come to this, that you have a missing persons case that can remain under investigation for 50 years," he said before the hearing. "It’s absolute stonewalling."

Murray’s lawyer, Timothy Ervin, argued that while exemptions to the state Right to-Know Law and the federal Freedom of Information Act allow police to withhold evidence in open investigations, they cannot withhold all 2,500 records indefinitely. He asked that a judge review the records to determine whether some should be released.

"The court has to make a specific showing that disclosure would interfere with the ongoing investigation," he said.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Nancy Smith argued the records, including witness interviews, phone records and police reports, could become critical evidence in a criminal prosecution.

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Newspaper Articles #202
« Reply #206 on: December 15, 2019, 08:49:48 am »
Valley News

November 16, 2006

Police Dive for Evidence Comes Up Empty

By Mark Davis

Pike, n.h.-- Police and a dive team spent three hours yesterday searching for "evidence" in the waters of an abandoned quarry on Lily Pond Road, less than a mile from a murder in September 2005 that remains unsolved.

Haverhill Police Chief Jeff Williams would not say for which investigation the search was executed, and declined to specify what kind of evidence police and the dive team were looking for.

"We're in the middle of an investigation," he said. "I can't tell you what we're investigating. It's a search for evidence."

Members of the New Hampshire Fish & Game Department and the Fire Marshal's Office were also at the abandoned slate quarry, immediately off the west side of Lily Pond Road, about two miles north of Route 25C.

Also there was Mike Conrad, whose brother, Tom, was shot dead on the porch of his home on Lily Pond Road on the night of Sept. 28. Authorities have declared his death a homicide but have charged no one and have released little information about their investigation.

Mike Conrad, who lived next door to his brother, said he was "interested" in yesterday's activities but referred questions to police.

Conrad spent several minutes talking with the Fish & Game divers, and said later he had told authorities of two more nearby quarries that could be searched.

Tomorrow would have been Tom Conrad's 56th birthday.

An underwater camera device, which Fish & Game officials likened to a "mini-submarine," returned images to a video monitor from beneath the water, 12 to 15 feet deep, but the water was too murky to see much, officials said.

Fish and Game officer Tom Dakai also dove into the quarry. "My eyes couldn't see anything once I got down there," Dakai said.

In addition to Conrad's death, one other Haverhill incident remains unsolved -- the disappearance of Maura Murray, the Massachusetts college student who crashed her car into a snowbank in February 2004 and has not been seen since.

Murray's father was at the New Hampshire Supreme Court Wednesday demanding that police turn over thousands of pages of documents from their investigation.

Conrad said that shortly after his brother died, he posted several notices with a picture of Tom and the message: "Do you know who murdered me?" including one nailed to a tree only yards from the quarry.

"The more people see it, then maybe they'll think of something and come forward," Mike Conrad said. "Police say it can't hurt."

Mark Davis can be reached at mcdavis@vnews.com or (603) 727-3304.

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Newspaper Articles #203
« Reply #207 on: December 15, 2019, 08:50:13 am »
MyFox Boston

December 20, 2006

Court: Police Must Justify Secret Files in Murray Disappearance

CONCORD, N.H. -- The state Supreme Court ruled Wednesday state police must give more detailed descriptions and reasons for withholding their investigative files in the disappearance of Massachusetts college student Maura Murray.

State police "have not met their burden to demonstrate how disclosure of the requested documents could reasonably be expected to interfere with any investigation or enforcement proceedings," the court said in a unanimous decision.

Murray was 21 years old when she was last seen on the night of Feb. 9, 2004, shortly after crashing her car into a snowbank next to Route 112 in Haverhill.

Her father, Fred Murray, of Weymouth, Mass., had sued to obtain the investigative files under the state Right-to-Know Law, saying the information would aid private investigators trying to determine her fate. However, the volunteer private investigators disagreed that police should be required to disclose their files.

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Newspaper Articles #204
« Reply #208 on: December 15, 2019, 08:50:41 am »
The New Hampshire Union Leader / The Concord Monitor

December 21, 2006

Court to rehear Murray suit - Justices: Police must justify secretiveness

By Katharine Webster

CONCORD -- The state Supreme Court says state police must give more detailed descriptions and reasons for refusing to disclose their investigative records in the disappearance of Massachusetts college student Maura Murray.

The ruling came Wednesday, only a week after oral arguments. The justices sent the case back to a lower court for a new hearing.

State police "have not met their burden to demonstrate how disclosure of the requested documents could reasonably be expected to interfere with any investigation or enforcement proceedings," the court said in a unanimous decision.

Murray was 21 years old when she was last seen on the night of Feb. 9, 2004, shortly after crashing her car into a snowbank next to Route 112 in Haverhill.

Her father, Fred Murray, of Weymouth, Mass., sued to obtain the investigative files under the state Right-to-Know Law.

"We didn't get what we asked for yet," Murray said in a statement. "We were proven correct in our assessment that the state has not met its burden to show that the records should be withheld."

His lawyer, Timothy Ervin, said yesterday the ruling was "fair and balanced," although the court did not require the release of any records.

"We've said all along that the state has not met its burden to show that all the records they have fall within the exemption" to the Right-to-Know Law, he said. "In fairness, (the justices) couldn't order a release of records without knowing the nature of the records."

Fred Murray has said the information could aid private investigators trying to determine his daughter's fate. However, the volunteer private investigators disagreed.

"Even if the court decided that some or all of those records should be released, we don't want them," John Healy, a former state trooper who is coordinating the volunteer effort, said Wednesday. "We understand the damage it could do if certain investigative theories or avenues that led to dead ends were made public."

A superior court judge had agreed, ruling in favor of state police after he reviewed a list outlining 20 categories of records that were being withheld, such as "photographs," "correspondence," "maps and diagrams" and "tax records."

The high court said those categories were too vague for anyone to determine whether disclosure would compromise the police investigation or future criminal prosecution. They said the law clearly puts the burden on government agencies to justify withholding documents from public scrutiny.

"If the respondents continue to resist disclosure, they must make a presentation that will allow the superior court to determine how disclosure of the requested information could interfere with an ongoing investigation or enforcement proceedings," Associate Justice Richard Galway wrote for the court.

However, the ruling stopped well short of giving Fred Murray what he sought: either an index describing every record being withheld and the reason for keeping it confidential, so he could challenge the nondisclosure; or a requirement that a judge review the records and rule on each one.

The state Attorney General's Office had argued that would impose an overwhelming burden on police and the courts: The file in Murray's disappearance contains more than 2,500 records. Senior Assistant Attorney General Nancy Smith also argued the records, including witness interviews and police reports, could become critical evidence in a criminal prosecution.

Smith said yesterday that state police will be able to show their records should remain confidential.

On the Net: The ruling: http://www.courts.state.nh.us/supreme/opinions/2006/murra152.pdf

MauraMurrayEvidence

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Newspaper Articles #205
« Reply #209 on: December 15, 2019, 08:51:19 am »
Foster's Online

December 27, 2006

Right-to-Know law gets tougher to circumvent

The New Hampshire Supreme Court has handed down an important ruling in the case of Frederick J. Murray v. N.H. Division of State Police, Special Investigation.

Its importance lies not just in the possibility it may help a distraught father find his missing daughter, but because the decision strengthens New Hampshire's Right-to-Know law.

The case involves attempts by Murray, a Weymouth, Mass., father, to access police records concerning his 23-year-old daughter, Maura, who went missing during the winter of 2004 in New Hampshire following a minor car accident.

With State Police failing to find his daughter, Murray has been seeking access to the records in hopes of being able to use them for an independent investigation.

However, the State Police, through the Attorney General's Office, has denied this request arguing the records are part of an ongoing investigation and, as such, are not subject to the state Right-to-Know law.

While the high court did not order the release of the records in its Dec. 20 ruling, it did reject the attorney general's blanket contention they be kept sealed, primarily because they were part of an ongoing investigation.

First of all, the court found there is no such blanket exemption under New Hampshire law. In fact, the court found such a void that it turned to federal law — the Freedom of Information Act — for guidance.

In doing so, the court took the position that the New Hampshire Right-to-Know law should be interpreted liberally.

"The purpose of the Right-to-Know Law is to ensure both the greatest possible public access to the actions, discussions and records of all public bodies, and their accountability to the people."

The court further noted: "While the statute does not provide for unrestricted access to public records, we resolve questions regarding the Right-to-Know Law with a view to providing the utmost information in order to best effectuate the statutory and constitutional objective of facilitating access to all public documents."

Moving to the federal Freedom of Information Act, the court found it was the state's responsibility to justify withholding investigative records — that a carte blanche denial of Murray's request was not appropriate.

Effectively, the court incorporated into state jurisprudence a six-part test provided for by the FOIA. These include the ability to withhold information that may hinder an investigation, deprive someone of a fair trial, invade someone's privacy, identify confidential sources, disclose certain investigative techniques or endanger someone's life or physical safety.

The court found while the Attorney General's Office might have grounds to withhold investigative records, it has not shown that releasing the records would "interfere" with that investigation or eventual prosecution.

"Put another way," wrote the court, "merely because a piece of paper has wended its way into an investigative dossier created in anticipation of enforcement action, an agency . . . cannot automatically disdain to disclose it."

The court went on to tell the Attorney General's Office that, "Since an agency may not rely on a blanket exemption, it must meet a minimum threshold of disclosure in order to justify its refusal to disclose."

That doesn't mean, however, the court is requiring the attorney general's staff to defend every page, paragraph or word.

"The agency is not required, however, to justify its refusal on a document-by-document basis. ... the withholding should be justified category-of-document by category-of-document not file-by-file."

In addition, Murray is not seeking a public review of all documents, rather each case involves an "in camera" review — one conducted in chambers by a judge out of the public purview.

The high court's decision sends the matter back to the trial court where the Attorney General's Office will be required to justify its decision to withhold documents. The decision will also give Fred Murray another chance to further the search for his daughter.

But perhaps more importantly, the court's decision reaffirms that New Hampshire's Right-to-Know law must be liberally interpreted, not liberally restricted — something that should be noted by county attorneys as well as local police departments across New Hampshire.

 

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