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TRUE CRIME: The haunting disappearance of Maura Murray, the original Gone Girl.

Maura Murray was just 21 years old when she vanished without a trace in 2004.

The University of Massachusetts student was driving through rural New Hampshire at night when she lost control of her vehicle and ploughed into a snow bank.

By the time the police arrived on scene, Maura was gone. And ever since that night the internet has been obsessed with her disappearance.

Blogs, Reddit threads, a podcast, and a book, have all been dedicated to the search for answers in the disappearance of Maura Murray.

Some have referred to Maura as the gone girl before Gone Girl. She was the original all-American girl, who was hiding dark secrets and a troubling past, behind her perfect grades and track star exterior.

By the time the police arrived on scene, Maura was gone. Image supplied.

There are many conflicting theories about what happened to Maura. Did she run off into the woods and die from exposure? Was she driving into the White Mountains to commit suicide? Did she successfully evade the police and start a new life in Canada? Was she abducted by an opportunistic serial killer? Is she still living in New Hampshire under a different name? Was she murdered by a group of locals and did the police cover it up?

Maura's remains have never been found and she hasn't accessed her bank accounts or reached out to her family or friends since.

There was only about a 3-5 minute gap in between the time Butch Atwood, a local school bus driver, last saw Maura and when she vanished.

So where did Maura go?

What looks like a simple case on the surface, becomes muddied with conflicting theories and eccentric personalities, when you start to peel back the layers.


And when you begin looking into Maura's case it's easy to lose yourself in loose ends and what ifs.

maura murray
Like many of us, Maura was battling with her own disappointments and failures, and was probably experiencing some form of mental illness at the time when she disappeared. Image via Maura Murray Missing.

That's exactly what happened to Ohio-based true crime author James Renner.

Renner began investigating Maura's disappearance in 2011. In his book True Crime Addict: How I Lost Myself in the Mysterious Disappearance of Maura Murray  Renner describes how Maura's case soon began infiltrating every part of his life. His search for the truth started to take priority over his own personal life and well-being.


"My wife said to me a couple of weeks ago that I had lost my sense of joy, that I never smiled anymore. It was a profound statement. I still consider myself a funny guy," he wrote.

And he's not the only one. A bunch of private detectives and internet sleuths have found themselves coming out the other end of the Maura Murray rabbit hole months, if not years, down the track, no closer to the truth.

A podcast called Missing Maura Murray began looking into the case in June 2015. But nearly two years on, the hosts Lance Reenstierna and Tim Pilleri, have no definitive answers.

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Like many of us, Maura was battling with her own disappointments and failures, and was probably experiencing some form of mental illness at the time when she disappeared.

And it was what was happening in her life in the lead up to Maura's disappearance that really intrigues the armchair detectives.

Renner's investigations have revealed that Maura was asked to leave the prestigious West Point Academy a couple of years before her disappearance because she stole makeup from one of the stores on site.

Maura then transferred to UMass and started studying nursing. But it wasn't long until Maura was in trouble again. According to Renner, Maura had recorded the numbers off another student's credit card and used them to buy food. She was charged by the local police and put on probation.

Three nights before Maura disappeared, a student at UMass was injured in a hit and run accident. Some people have theorised that Maura could have been driving the car, but there has never been any proof of this.


Later that night, Maura became distressed at her job manning one of the college's reception desks, and was escorted home by her supervisor. When her supervisor asked Maura what was wrong, all she could reply was 'my sister'. Maura's sister has said there was nothing wrong with her at this time.

Two days before she went missing, Maura's father Fred withdrew $4000 from eight different ATMs. He then travelled to UMass to visit Maura and they went looking for another second hand car for her. They never bought a car. Later that night Maura crashed Fred's car on campus while driving home from a party.

On the day of her disappearance Maura emailed her college professors and told them there had been a death in the family. There hadn't been a death. She then started researching cabins in the white mountains, before packing some belongings into her car and driving down Interstate 91.

We don't where Maura was travelling to or what she was planning.

It's easy to see how a 21-year-old college student could have become overwhelmed after the events of the previous few months. Maybe she just wanted to get away for awhile to clear her mind. Maybe she did think her family and friends would be better off without her. Maybe she was planning to start a new life in Canada.

All we know is that Maura Murray's life as she knew it, ended that night on the side of the road, and 13 years later we're still searching for answers.