The Murray girls could run.
At Whitman-Hanson Regional High School, a half hour south of Boston, Maura and Julie Murray's names still dominate the list of records in track and cross-country. In 1998, Julie, Maura's older sister, broke the record for the 1 mile, with a time of 5:10.8 while Maura took the record for the 2 mile with a time of 11:20.7.
According to her coaches, Maura was considered by many as perhaps the fastest female runner in the state of Mass her freshman year. When she matured heading into her sophomore year, however, she lost a bit of her speed and focussed, instead, on distance running, which she dominated for the remainder of her high school years.
Assistant girls cross-country coach Keith Erwin makes no bones about it. "She was the most talented runner ever to come through this school and her sister, Julie, was a phenomenal runner herself."
Driving their constant conditioning was their father, Fred, who had coached youth baseball and football teams in the area. Though Fred was estranged from the girls' mother, and worked in Connecticut, he was present for every track meet. He pushed the girls to run every day--Maura was seen running around the school one Christmas, even.
"She was extremely driven," says coach Mike Driscoll. "She wanted to be the best. She looked up to her sister, Julie, and wanted to hold onto that legacy."
Driscoll was not surprised, then, when Maura decided to follow Julie to the United States Military Academy at West Point after graduation. The last time he saw her, though, was in Boston. She was running for UMass, having transferred to a nursing program there after leaving West Point abruptly. "She seemed happy to be away from West Point."
"She kind of kept to herself," says Driscoll. "But she was also a bit of a jokester. And she adored her father. She would do anything for him."
As to what happened to Maura in 2004, on a desolate road in New Hampshire? "Honestly," he says, "I hope she was meeting somebody up there and that she's still around."