The story of Maura Murray’s mysterious disappearance has been told countless times in the two decades she’s been missing – but now, her sister is telling it in her own words.
In a new podcast Media Pressurelaunched on Monday, Julie Murray teams up with Sarah Turney, whose sister Alissa is also missing, to tell the untold story of Maura through the voices of those who knew her best.
Her family has never given up their mission to find Maura, and are hoping the new podcast will lead to answers and resolution in her case.
Ms Murray told The Independent this podcast is unique because it gives families a chance to tell their own stories, which she said is something that is missing from the true crime space.
“I was dependent on other people to get Maura’s story out there, but I had no control in how they portrayed it,” Ms Murray said. “And that’s difficult. To listen to a stranger give details about your sister and family whom they’ve never met. So, to be able to tell the story in my own words gave me that sense of control that I felt was missing.”
Ms Murray said she always comes back to the same question.
“Whose story is it to tell anyway? Maura is not here. She is voiceless. So who better to tell it than me, and my family. We have to be her voice.”
The new podcast that launched on Monday is part of Voices for Justice network, which was created by Sarah Turney years after her own sister’s 2001 disappearance, in which she explored the case and posted regular updates on TikTok, garnering millions of views.
In 2020, her father Michael Turney was arrested on second degree murder charges in the case, but as of July 2023, the charges were dropped. Alissa’s body has never been found.
“It was so healing to finally put everything out there, and kind of get it straight in your mind, and tell the story from start to finish in your own words,” she said regarding Alissa’s story.
“There’s something really beautiful, and of course it’s sad, but at the same time it’s this cathartic experience that I really wanted to pass on to others.”
The podcast transitioned over to helping other families of missing people, which eventually spurred the idea for a new podcast that focuses on putting pressure on those who may know something to come forward.
And what’s unique about the Media Pressure podcast, is that each season will feature a different case – and will be told by those close to the story.
Ms Turney told The Independent that the “whole goal of the network Voices for Justice Media is to carve out space for families like me and Julie... It’s time we had some space in true crime.”
She explained that there are many families who have gone through the same things – begging for media pressure, attention on their loved one’s case, traveling to events such as CrimeCon to spread the word, and countless interviews.
“It’s something we’re not used to seeing in true crime We’re so used to being interviewed. And having our stories cut and edited to fit the algorithm,” Ms Turney said. “At some point, when do you start creating the content yourself?”
The first season of Media Pressure is solely focused on Maura’s case with exclusive interviews, an in-depth look into the investigation, and an exploration of the impact on those left behind.
She said Maura’s case has been “shrouded in so many theories and misinformation on the internet and it was almost like they were being silenced.”
It was “very intentional to make her the first season,” she added.
Maura’s sister told The Independent that the idea of a podcast seemed overwhelming but when she saw what Ms Turney did for her own sister’s case, she wanted to find it in herself to be a voice for Maura. In the end, she also found healing.
“It was very therapeutic to sit down with my family and talk about these intricate details,” said Ms Murray. “It wasn’t easy, obviously it hurt, but at the end of it, there was this collective sigh of relief like OK we did it, we told the story, we did right by Maura and that’s huge for a family like mine.”
She said it wasn’t only a platform for herself, but for those close to the story.
“One person said, ‘you’re the only one I could trust, the only one I will talk to,’” Ms Murray revealed, adding that these people have been working hard behind the scenes of Maura’s case.
“So we’re giving these people a platform too – to share what they know.”
Her hope is that by having Maura’s story retold through trusted voices, it could lead to new tips and leads in the case.
“One listener could hold the key to unlocking this mystery,” she said.
As of now, Maura’s case is considered to be an open active suspicious missing person case. She was last seen on 9 February 2004.
Investigators said she told professors she had a death in the family, which was not true, packed a bag, took money out of her bank account and drove her 1996 Saturn north out of Massachusetts and toward New Hampshire.
Maura crashed her car in Woodsville, New Hampshire, which was found by a nearby resident who called police. But when police arrived, she was not there.
A bus driver named Butch Atwood drove by and spoke to Maura, according to the family. He offered her help and asked if she needed him to call police but she declined both offers and said she had already called AAA.
Her interaction with the bus driver is the last known sighting of Maura. There has been no activity on her cell phone or bank accounts.
There have been searches all over the area in recent years, but there are still no answers about where Maura could be.
In the past, the relationship between her family and law enforcement has been tense as they continued to push for answers while getting few results.
But Ms Murray said she has seen a much better collaborative relationship with officials who she says have been much more empathetic.
On Friday, the 20th anniversary of Maura’s disappearance, the Murray family will hold a candlelight vigil at Mountain Lakes Lodge in Woodsville, New Hampshire.
And for the first time in 20 years, the assistant Attorney General and the head of the New Hampshire cold case unit will be attending, Ms Murray said.
“It’s a huge step forward,” she said. “I want to show the public that you can have a collaborative relationship with those charged with bringing the case to a resolution. I feel good with the way this is trending.”
The podcasts, along with newly released photographs, documents, and other files, will also be available on the family’s website.
Media Pressure Season 1: The Untold Story of Maura Murraylaunched on 9 February on Apple podcasts. The first two episodes are available now.