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Maura Murray blue ribbon memorial tree destroyed

March 10, 2021
HAVERHILL — Despite ongoing efforts by Maura Murray's family to save the tree marking the site where she was last seen alive, the property owners cut it down two weeks ago.

Last fall, Murray's family petitioned the New Hampshire legislature to install a permanent historical marker on Route 112 in Haverhill. They await approval and hope for a spring installation.

"Typically, the approval process takes about four months. But COVID really slowed things down at the state capitol, and we haven't heard anything yet," stated Murray's elder sister Julie.

Only 25 New Hampshire resident petition signatures were required for a historical marker. Murray said the effort received overwhelming international support.

"We had the signatures we needed within twenty minutes. Since then, we've also seen more than 3,300 people add their names to the cause from 42 different countries," said Murray.

Murray has worked tirelessly to find answers about the disappearance and honor her sister's memory. She said the Blue Ribbon tree on Route 112 was a sacred place for the family, and they would continue to pilgrimage to the spot at least twice a year despite its removal.

"Thousands of people visit the Blue Ribbon tree each year. Removing it will not prevent people from stopping at the site," noted Murray.

"This cruel act has strengthened my family's resolve to fight for answers until we find Maura and hold accountable those responsible for her disappearance. With the destruction of the Blue Ribbon tree, we urge NH Division of Historical Resources Director Ben Wilson to swiftly approve Maura's historical marker request, recognizing the historical significance of Maura's disappearance at the location she was last seen in 2004," she continued.

Since submitting the initial request on Oct 16, supporters delivered more than 400 emails and phone calls to the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources. With the tree gone, Murray felt an intense urgency to speed up the delayed approval process.

"We hope it will move quickly now that the tree has been torn down. We've received letters of support from New Hampshire State Rep. Debra DeSimone and former NH Speaker of the House Steve Shurtleff," added Murray.

A 15-year mystery, the Maura Murray story garnered both national and international attention, yet no substantial breaks have occurred in the case. On Feb. 9, 2004, Murray sent an email to her professors about a death in the family, left the UMass Amherst campus and headed towards New Hampshire in her car. Later that evening, a local reported a car crash on a bend of Route 112 in Haverhill.

In the 19 minutes that elapsed between that initial 911 call and law enforcement's arrival on the scene of the accident, Murray had already disappeared. Although investigators initially treated her disappearance as a missing person case, they transferred it to the cold case division five years later.

Because Murray disappeared only five days after the launch of Facebook, her case has been dubbed 'the first crime mystery of the social media age' by a documentary on the Oxygen network in 2017.

Anyone wishing to support the Murray family's efforts for a permanent historical marker on Route 112 can learn more by visiting the website at www.mauramurraymissing.org. The family also encourages supporters to contact NH state representatives directly.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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