The blue ribbon on the tree along Route 112 in Haverhill that honors Maura Murray and marks the spot where she vanished more than 16 years ago is again in jeopardy.
After helping to table legislation in June that sought to remove roadside memorials across New Hampshire, the family of Maura Murray is facing another challenge after being contacted by the landowner, who is already clearing trees on the property and who intends to possibly remove the true with the ribbon.
The Murray family, looking ahead in the event the true is cut down, is now launching a Blue Ribbon Campaign to install a historical marker at the site and is seeking the public’s help.
“I’ve recently been contacted by the local landowners and informed of their plan to cut down the tree with Maura’s blue ribbon,” Julie Murray, Maura’s sister, said in the campaign narrative. “My family is in discussion with the landowners in hopes of striking a deal that will allow us to protect the blue ribbon. However, what these recent events have made clear is that we must be proactive to preserve the sacred place that my family and thousands of people visit each and every year.”
In order to formally recognize and protect the location for the foreseeable future, the family is in the process of applying for a New Hampshire historical marker to memorialize Maura near the place she was last seen alive, she said.
The family is asking for the public to sign their petition (at www.mauramurraymissing.org/blueribbon.html) and complete a survey to help determine the language for the application for Maura’s historical marker.
Maura Murray, then a 21-year-old nursing student at the University of Massachusetts, disappeared without a trace on the evening of Feb. 9, 2004, after she crashed her car along Route 112 near the Weathered Barn.
Since then, a blue ribbon has been on the tree.
“With no grave to visit or ashes to scatter, Maura’s blue ribbon serves as a symbol to remember and honor her,” said Julie Murray.
In June, the New Hampshire House of Representatives passed House Bill 1255, which, before it was tabled by the Senate, would have authorized the state Department of Transportation to remove roadside memorials, among them the blue ribbon, if they are not voluntarily removed.
“My family reached out to key leaders in the New Hampshire State Senate to voice our strong opposition to the bill,” said Julie Murray. “Ultimately, the measure was defeated, ensuring that Maura’s ribbon, and other roadside memorials across the state, remain temporarily protected.”
On Wednesday, Murray, who previously spoke with representatives at the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources, told The Caledonian-Record that the protocol for getting a marker installed are a minimum of 20 pen-and-ink signatures, which she is working on getting in New Hampshire.
“I really wanted to show the committee that makes the decision on whether or not we get a marker the online petition as an extra show of support from folks all over the country and world,” she said. “That will go in the packet with the pen-and-ink signatures.”
The goal is to file an application by the end of the summer and have a marker erected in the spring, said Murray.
The New Hampshire Department of Transportation, which looks at safety when placing historical markers, will ultimately decide where the marker will go, but, ideally, the placement would be at or near the current location of the blue ribbon, she said.
“The whole point of us doing the historical marker is that we did kill the bill in the Senate, but it’s a temporary win and we need something more permanent,” said Murray. “I think this is the better solution.”
On late Wednesday afternoon, she checked the online petition, which, after five hours, already had more than 600 people signing on.
“Our goal for the online petition is 5,000 signatures and we are on our way toward that,” said Murray.