HAVERHILL, N.H. — The state of New Hampshire denied an application to put a historical marker alongside a Haverhill highway where a 21-year-old nursing student was last seen following a 2004 car crash.
The decision regarding the marker for Maura Murray came on Friday, a week after a “blue ribbon” tree at the spot used as a memorial to her had been cut down by the property owner, the Caledonian-Record reported.
“There is no doubt that this decision was difficult to make based on the subject matter and loss your family has endured over the last 17 years,” the letter from Benjamin Wilson, director of the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources, said to Julie Murray, Maura’s sister.
Wilson said under the program, the subject matter being defined by a marker must be at least 50 years old. Also, the state Department of Transportation “has indicated that they would not support locating a marker at or near the proposed location based on the road shape and lack of road width or shoulder,” Wilson wrote.
He added that the communities of Haverhill and Woodsville “have clearly expressed a desire to not have a historic highway marker located in town or at the proposed location. Having broad community support may be the most important aspect of the highway marker program.” Wilson wrote.
Julie Murray, Maura’s sister, asked Wilson to reconsider, saying a review of markers approved by the historical division shows a number of them have been installed within 50 years and there is no 50-year requirement listed on the division’s website or in New Hampshire law.
She also said the Transportation Department didn’t propose an alternative location and noted that the memorial has the support of 780 New Hampshire petitioners, plus others who sent emails and made phone calls.
The University of Massachusetts-Amherst nursing student was last seen on Route 112, which leads to the White Mountain National Forest, on February 9, 2004. She had crashed her car into a snowbank.
She is classified as a missing person, and the case remains open and active.