A few months ago I went to the grocery store to do my groceries. When I returned to my car with my groceries, I noticed someone had parked close to my vehicle on the driver’s side. I was unable to open my driver’s side door. If I tried to force it open, I would damage my vehicle and the vehicle next to me. This only left me with one option, I had to crawl into my vehicle from the passenger side and make my way to the driver’s side.

This situation made me rethink Maura’s accident and after reading the Whitman-Hanson Express article dated July 12, 2007, it made me question everything I thought about this case. You can find the article here:


This part of the article features the encounter between Butch Atwood and Maura Murray. The article states the following:

Atwood stopped by the scene of the accident and saw a young woman alone in the car whom he later identified as Maura Murray. Her dark hair was hanging down, not in its customary bun, though Atwood said he could clearly see her face. She was “shook-up,” but not injured, he reported to police.

“I saw no blood…She was cold and she was shivering,” Atwood told the Caledonian Record.

So here Butch Atwood claims to have pulled up to the Saturn that Maura was driving and seeing a female in the vehicle who seemed to be uninjured and shivering. The article continues with the following:

Maura struggled to get out of her Saturn because the car door was hitting against a snowbank, Atwood recalled when interviewed for this story from his new home in Florida. There was as much as two and a half feet of snow on the ground in the area.
Atwood stepped out of his bus and asked Maura if she wanted him to call the police. Maura told him not to bother, saying that she had already called AAA, Atwood said.

Here Butch Atwood claims that Maura’s driver’s side door was wedged against the snow bank that was approximately two and a half feet high. It is also believed that her air bag had deployed during the accident. Butch also claims that he has now stepped out of his bus and presumably would now be close to Maura’s passenger side. The article continues with the following:

Atwood said that Maura remained on the driver’s side of her car, about 15 to 20 feet away and stayed there during their entire conversation. A heavy-set man about 60 years old, Atwood may have cast an intimidating figure to Maura. “I might be afraid if I saw Butch. He’s 350 pounds and has this mustache,” Barbara Atwood told the Patriot Ledger two weeks after the accident.

So I have a few problems with Butch’s version of the events since they simply don’t make sense to me. Here are the puzzling pieces which don’t make sense to me:

  • If the door was jammed against the snowbank, how was Maura able to open the door and stand 15-20 feet away on the driver’s side?
  • If Maura was able to open the driver’s side door, was there damage on the door left behind from the friction between the snowbank and the door?
  • If the snowbank was that close to Maura’s vehicle, how is it that she didn’t leave any footprints? (assuming she would have needed to climb into the snow bank to get around the vehicle)
  • If the airbag did deploy and she was shaken up, how is she able to open a door which is pinned by a two and a half foot snowbank while being pinned down by an airbag?

I’m sure I could come up with several other questions, but you can see how I highly doubt Butch’s story. The logical thing to do for Maura would have been to climb out the passenger side, however if she would have done that she could not have been 15-20 feet away from Butch Atwood since she would have been right in front of him. I don’t know about you but this makes me rethink this entire case. Since Butch Atwood was the last person to see Maura Murray alive, what does it mean if his version of the events don’t add up? Let me know what you think.




15 comments on “Was Butch Atwood telling the truth? – Maura Murray

  • Big Question…..How wide is a Saturn..?

    If Butch was parked right beside the car with the bus and he stepped down off the bus and onto the pavement he would more than likely be about 10 to 12 ft away. It may not be much of a difference but it seems that Atwood was trying to distance himself from the driver in his conversations with the media.

    Also what Barbara says about Butch being intimidating and Maura would never go with him again is trying to take the story away from them, distance themselves from the girl.

    Also when Barbara told dispatch….”Not sure where the female is” is another direction tactic. When Butch pulled away she was there….So WHY would Barbara say that.

    Could Barbara actually have been riding in the bus with Butch that evening…..Just a thought..!

  • The Saturn would have been about 5 feet wide. I do agree that his story distances himself from Maura. It also doesn’t make sense that she was so close to the snowbank yet there were no footprints found or any scratches on the driver’s side door from forcing the door open. The whole thing just doesn’t add up. Her instincts would not be to go out the driver’s side, it would be to go out on the passenger side. It’s just strange.

    Good point on the comment from Barbara. From Butch’s accounts, he called 911 and stepped out onto his front porch. After he went back into his bus. Why would Barbara “not be sure where the female is” or even know that the driver was female….. Something isn’t adding up.

  • Maybe that could be why he failed his first polygraph! Who was it that said he/she saw activity around the trunk? Was it Maura or someone else? I wish there was a definitive timeline because I read different scenarios and there could only be one true scenario. Could the bus have collided with the car?

    • Faith Westman stated she saw “a flurry of activity around the trunk after the bus had driven away.”

      There is definitely something wrong with this whole evening and the witnesses surrounding it.

  • I agree with John. Something is not right with this whole event. Starting with BA all the up to JW and CS. It’s sort of scary to know this kind of stuff goes on daily everywhere.

  • I believe there are three realistic theories out there.

    #1 Maura ran off into the night and died from the elements.

    #2 Maura got out of the crash and was shaken up. She was accosted by a “local dirtbag” and perished.
    #3 Maura set up an elaborate scheme whereby she could escape with a tandem driver to some other location and live out the rest of her life.

    Of the three selections #2 is the most logical and easiest solution. No footprints where found in the nearby woods, nothing dropped and no blood found. The dog tracked the body up the road towards Butch Atwoods house. Butch Atwood is the easiest solution to this case. He came upon the vehicle and found a deceased, passed out, or near unconscious Maura at the accident scene and scooped her up in his bus. He put her in the back and drove over to his residence where he (suspiciously) backed his bus into the driveway and stayed in his bus for 20 minutes “writing up a report.” If Maura was unconscious or passed out he could have easily stashed her in one of the back rows of the bus and no one would have known otherwise. He could have had his way sexually with her and then dumped her body off just about anywhere.

    Butch Atwood was the last one to see Maura. Butch Atwood failed at least one polygraph test. Butch Atwood’s story doesn’t add up. If he had pulled into his residence in reverse he would be facing the very road that Maura would have had to of run up and towards where he was facing. There is no way he is not seeing or hearing her moving about.

    Butch Atwood is the #1 suspect in my opinion.

    • Interesting take, I’ve considered Butch as a suspect too but the only thing is that there is no way a 300lb man can catch a track star even if she had been drinking. The only way Butch would have been a suspect in my opinion is if he hit Maura with his bus.

  • I’m watching the documentary and My FIRST thought while watching his interview, and I’m unable to shake it, is that Bruce Atwood killed and probably disposed of her after sexually assaulting her. He may have even held her on his property for a while until he could kill and dispose of her body without being noticed.

    • What I find odd about Butch is the amount of discrepancies between the stories or versions of his description on the night. He was polygraphed twice, he failed once but they blamed it on his bad health and heart condition. It is also odd that after he spoke to 911 he went back into his bus to “fill out” paperwork. He could have very easily hid Maura’s body in his bus.

  • the bus driver says that he sat in his bus for several minutes doing paperwork yet he did not see her getting into a car as they allege happened? For some reason I find this bus driver to be suspicious and have always but since he can no longer be interviewed wonder if anyone did a search of his house or the bus for that matter. Then the Haverhill policeman who they interviewed spoke about Fred saying something he thought was strange? I think the Haverhill Policeman was strange. I thin that he was pretty strange himself. Why is he judging what anyone said when at this time people speak strange things and wonder later why they said them and he questions what Fred may have said? I have read about this case for years but never commented in regard to it. Maura did not get into a car and Maura did not walk away. Too many people saw someone else at the accident scene and that can only mean that Maura was not alone. Where was the cigarette that the person was smoking that night? The police botched the investigation and now are worming their way back into it but if you allow the police to get back into it the will botch it up again. She did not walk away and she would never have gotten into a car since she did not get into a school bus. Not unless she knew the driver. Maybe she was not street savvy as her sister may have said but any woman gets real street savvy when they are alone on a deserted country road and they all know not to get into a car by themselves. Not even in 2004. That does not take street savvy but common sense which Maura did have. Then why would she take credit card numbers for food only? Her dad would have given her money for food so that makes no sense to risk her entire career for a stolen credit card number. That also makes no sense. There was something else going on in her life. She had no camping equipment so how was she going to camp out? Nothing her makes any sense for her to have been kidnapped totally makes no sense. For her to be taken in front of a bus driver and a house makes no sense when she could have screamed. I think that Atwood should have been checked out more because that guy just looked suspicious and talked the same. Nothing here makes any sense except that we know that Fred Murray had nothing to do with molesting his child and he also had nothing to do with molesting his children and to say that is worse than ridiculous. This man is heartbroken and the police have treated Fred with great disdain. No dad should have been treated as the police have treated him and for the police and the state to only say this is an ongoing investigation is unacceptable after all this time. The state botched this investigation and they have admitted to doing so now it will take anyone or someone to come forward to say what has happened to Maura because out there someone somewhere knows.

    • I find Butch suspicious too especially after watching one of the recent episodes of the oxygen show. Cecil Smith claimed that Butch Atwood said that Maura was sluring her speech and had to lean up against the something to stay up, meaning she was drunk but everything Butch said prior to this goes against this theory that Maura was drunk and quite frankly there were many turns that Maura could have crashed her vehicle on had she been drunk, why this one and why was it a straight on nose drive in like the one in Hadley? She didn’t even hit the brakes??? Like in Hadley??? this doesn’t make sense to me.

  • too many holes in his story – and sadly if he did it or knows more he took it to the grave with him.

    1. He first said she was in the car – dark jacket and he was out of the bus. then he changed it saying that he was in bus, she was out of car slurring speech and had issues standing
    2. He said he went home backed bus in and told wife to call 911 – then later he said he called 911
    3. Went back to bus and was doing paperwork while watching the scene – impossible – for serveral reasons – first being it was 12 above zero that night – why sit in bus doing paperwork? 2nd – he need lights on to do paperwork – if you are in a lighted room / car your vision outside the car is seriously limited. 3rd – the view of the scene from his driveway is not clear – large number of trees, bushes and poles between the scene and his driveway.
    3. She was last seen wearing a light coat – white / cream color on the atm footage. why would she change in her car / while driving to a heavier winter coat? Usually – even when it is cold out – you shed coats while driving – not add them.
    4. okay you ask her if she needs help – she says no – you are ex-L.E.O. You DO NOT LEAVE HER BY THE SIDE OF THE ROAD UNATTENDED in freezing cold with a dead car. EVEN IF SHE REFUSES HELP – you sit there and wait until LEO/wrecker / someone arrives. ESPECIALLY IF YOU KNOW SHE COULD NOT HAVE CELL SERVICE THERE.
    5. Airbags do not stay inflated. They inflate rapidly to prevent you from bouncing around then deflate (but remain out) so you can get out of the car.

    I’m not sure if he had anything to do with it or not – but he is (or claims to be) the last person who saw her besides her kidnapper or co-conspirator(if you believe the ran off story)

    My theory is that she cut the corner, was slightly impaired – either from the wine or beer, realized too late she missed the corner and overcorrected. This would result in her being slammed into the windshield, Airbags deploying and then her spinning with no skip marks and hitting the bank. She was probably groggy from the windshield, tried to open drivers door – could not, got out passengers side and found warmer jacket in back Bus stops she is shaken up from accident and confused – maybe to the point of thinking it is the week before and she has crashed dad’s car. mistakenly she tells him that she has already called AAA.

    from there – either he takes her or someone else does. Maybe she realizes after a few minutes that she is colder than she thought and starts walking toward where the bus pulled into – and one of the cars that are coming by picks her up – or BA comes and out picks her up.

  • Why in the first place was butch driving a bus, at 7:30 at night to begin with. I just don’t get it. I think he was in on it with his neighbor or something. But it def. has something to do with butch. Being a ex cop he knew the local station well and new could get away with it. Being just in a accident he could have easily picked up Maura and walked her up the steps on the bus. Butch would have been able to tell if she was just knockout or dead.

    • His statements are certainly confusing but I don’t think he’s involved in her disappearance. I do believe she was picked up that evening, quite possibly by someone who saw her at a local gas station and followed her. The same night Maura went missing, another lady and her child were run off the road about an hour away from where Maura’s vehicle was located.

    • Butch had taken a ski team to and from a resort for either a meet or practice. Not that unusual for first student to charter buses for clubs or after school stuff.

      What was unusual is him sitting in a cold bus in the dark doing paperwork.

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