Nearly 100 searchers from across New Hampshire combed a one-mile radius in Swiftwater, N.H., Tuesday, in search of clues that could shed light into the perplexing mystery of what happened to Maura Murray.
The 22-year-old Massachusetts woman, a nursing student at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, was last seen the night of Feb. 9, when she was in a minor car accident on Route 112 near the Weathered Barn.
Since then, no one has seen or heard from the woman.
Five months after the initial searches, 60 state troopers from as far away as Exeter, conservation officers and volunteers from search and rescue organizations spent the day on line searches, painstakingly looking for any clue that would give the investigation a boost.
This was the fourth search of the area and teams Tuesday spread out to cover a mile radius of the accident. The first searches were conducted while there was snow on the ground and teams found no tracks leading from the road into the woods or nearby Wild Ammonoosuc River.
Throughout the day, state police detectives could be seen removing materials from areas along the road.
\"We\'ve located several items, but there is nothing conclusive related to Maura or our investigation,\" said Fish and Game Lt. Todd Bogardus. \"Nothing out the ordinary - nothing to raise eyebrows.\"
Nor was there any particular reason why the search was conducted Tuesday, said state police Lt. John Scarinza.
\"There is no real reason,\" he said. \"We have searched this area four times previously - the first ones were conducted when there was 2-1/2 feet of snow on the ground. We have a 90 percent confidence level that she is not in this half-mile radius. We\'re just trying to eliminate as much as we can.\"
Bogardus said the items retrieved Tuesday are what can typically be found on any roadside this time of year and what investigators took away may not be related to the case at all, but they will be checked out.
Authorities are, however, still looking for one item, Scarinza said. Murray\'s friends said when they last saw her in February, she was carrying a black backpack.
\"There are some items that were in her possession that were not located in her car,\" Scarinza said. \"She had a black backpack, which has not been found. If we could find it, that would be important.\"
At the site where Murray was last seen, a bright blue ribbon hangs, along with a picture of her and a poster offering a $40,000 reward for information about her whereabouts.
Police won\'t speculate about what they think might have happened to Murray, but Scarinza said there has been no banking activity on her accounts and the few leads that have come in over the past five months have not yielded any answers.
Just last week, Scarinza said, two Rochester women called investigators following a newspaper article and picture they saw to say that they had been out at a bar there and saw a woman who looked like Murray. \"That hasn\'t panned out,\" Scarinza said.
Investigators have outlined what Murray did in the last few days before she went missing. They know that four days before her disappearance, she received a phone call at work that left her so distraught, she was walked back to her dorm by a supervisor.
They know that two days before the accident, she crashed her father\'s new car into guardrails along a road in Hanson, Mass., and that by the morning of Feb. 9, she had packed up all her belongings in boxes, left a note for her boyfriend; went on the Internet to look up driving directions to Burlington, Vt.; withdrew most of her money from her bank account and sent an e-mail to her work supervisor and a professor saying she would be absent from school for a week due to a death in the family, but, Scarinza said, there was no death in her family.
\"The next certainty is the accident, and what happened after that is unknown,\" he said. There is no evidence that foul play was a factor, he said.
Investigators have spent \"thousands of hours\" trying to find Murray.
Anyone with information can contact state police at 846-3333.