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I miss her terribly. It's hard to talk about sometimes. She's in my thoughts every day, and I remember her in those terms, and that's just who she was. That's who she is to me.


I thought Curtis was the only one that was going to make me cry. I'm Julie Murray, and this is Media Pressure, the untold story of Mara Murray. The following podcast contains adult language and potentially triggering topics. Listener discretion is advised. The opinions presented by my guest are their own. Episode 2: The beginning. In order to understand the mysterious appearance of my sister, Mara, I think it's important to get perspective on where she came from. The same place I did. So let's go back. Way back. Our parents grew up in working-class families, 15 miles south of Boston, in a town called Weymouth. My dad was a star athlete and self-taught tennis instructor. My mother, Lauryn, was beautiful, soft-spoken, and aspiring nurse five his junior. They married in 1968 and had their first child, Freddie, shortly thereafter. My dad worked in nuclear medicine, and my mother fulfilled her dream of becoming a nurse. They always wanted a lot of kids, but my mom wasn't able to get pregnant after Freddie for a number of years. Then, out of nowhere, she has three girls back to back to back in roughly two-year increments, Kathleen, myself, and Mara. Curtis would come several years later.


We grew up in a small, quiet town called Hanson, Massachusetts, about 25 miles south of Boston, where the biggest thing happening was a high school football game. We had a couple of stoplights and one Duncan Donuts. It was a good place for kids to grow up. There wasn't much to do other than to create our own entertainment, which we excelled at. We lived on a dead-end street in a modest split Ranch home. I shared a room with Mara. On the wall hung a poster of one of our heroes, Joan Benoît-Samuelsen, winning the 1984 Olympic Marathon. Below that was a small bookshelf with a collection of America's Civil War books and some classics like Jack London's The Call of the Wild and Henry David the Rose Walden. We all loved history. Mara would sit on the floor next to the bookshelf and twirl her hair. She always did this when she was reading or really concentrating. It's one of the most adorable horrible mental images that seared into my mind about Mara. Money was tight, but we always had what we needed. Most importantly, we always had each other, and the bonds formed then is what ultimately enabled us to endure the unthink remarkable tragedy that laid in wait.


Growing up, Mara quickly took the sports, as did everyone else in my family. We knew from an early age that she was gifted with the Murray athletic gene. It was also evidence she was smart as could be. The quick, witty comeback started early, and most certainly as a defense mechanism to fend off the typical older sibling torment. Freddie was so much older, and we were only graced with his presence if literally nothing else was happening, but mostly when he needed someone to change the channels on TV. We were his glorified channel flippers. See, this was before the time of TV remotes, so we sat on the floor and clicked through channels in exchange for candy or a ride to Heidi's Hollow for some ice cream. Kathleen was more like my mother, a gifted artist and animal lover. She enjoyed horseback riding and dance class. I wanted nothing to do with that and stuck to sports more like my dad. Mara, on the other hand, was a good mix of both my parents. She got her sassiness and sense of humor from my mom and her drive and competitiveness from my dad. Despite being amazingly talented, Mara was humble, thoughtful, and kind.


She was the type of person to write a thank you note for even the smallest gesture or for no reason at all.


Mara was always very humble. I mean, you know about her. She didn't hit anybody. She couldn't take a compliment. She didn't like being brought to the center of attention for accomplishments. She was always humble and never let how gifted she was go to her head.


Despite the differences in our individual personalities, the through line was always there, and you could tell we were siblings, with the most obvious commonality being our quiet, introverted nature. My parents grew apart and got divorced when Maura was seven. And then came Curtis, who was a different dad, but was a welcome addition to the family, as now we had our own channel flipper. Despite having different dads, my father made a point to include Curtis.


Fred and I have always had a wonderful relationship. He's always stepped up and treated me like his own. Whether it be training me in baseball or making me campboy when we went camping up in New Hampshire and including me and all of that, we've always had a very good, mutually respectful, healthy relationship. And he's never made me feel out of place in any way, and has always been nothing but supportive and welcoming and inviting throughout my life. Speaks a lot to his character because that's not typical. That reception in a situation like that, it's not always a good thing. And that's very special that we've been able to have that good relationship.


Sports and the outdoors were our world. And after my parents divorced, it was a good way to spend time with my dad. The divorce was hard on us, understandably so, but having both parents engaged made it bearable. My mother usually worked the 3:00 to 11:00 shift as a nurse, so my dad became our chauffeur, to and from practices and games. My grandmother Ruth was a big part of our lives and our main babysitter.


When Mara got her license, she would make it a point to visit Nana as much as possible. Nana was like the thread that sewed the whole family together. We were very, very lucky. And Mara loved that woman dearly.


We also spent a lot of time with our aunt Janice and cousins Tracey, Tammy, Jenny, Mason, and Matt. Holidays were always at her house in South Weymouth, split with dad. Janice would always invite my dad, which was nice to have everyone together, even if it was for a short time. I sat down with my brothers to talk about Mara as a kid. All right, I'm here with Freddie, your first ever podcast.


Yes, it is. First ever.


Okay, Freddie, you are the oldest of five, and you spent a lot of time dealing with your younger siblings. I wanted to ask you if you had any specific memory of Mara, what she was like, and what it was like growing up with all of us.


Like you said, I'm a lot older than the three of you, the three sisters. I'm 12 years older than Mara, which is a big gap. I watched her grow up her whole life. From being 12 years older. You witness everything. I didn't so much hang out with you kids every day. When we did hang out, it was usually doing fun things. My memories of Mara as a young kid are going to watch her play sports and going to family functions and fun things, going camping, of course. Yeah, it was just mostly all good memories from back then.


I talked a little bit about that, how we were only graced with your presence when you had absolutely nothing else to do.




That's how I remember it. How would you characterize us and our differences and how we were alike?


Yeah, that's a good question. Well, Kathleen, as anyone who knew her would tell you, is very artistic, very creative, reserved and quiet in a way in certain situations. But with us, she was Kathleen. She was outgoing and fun and great to be around. You were not as artistic as... Artistic, I should say, as Kathleen, but where she was more creative and artistic, you were more focused and driven in certain areas in sports and school. I'm not to say Kathleen wasn't, but she was maybe less that way. Then when you get to Mara, she had a little bit of both of those qualities, the artistic side and the and drive and ambition to reach goals, which she was very good at. Throughout her younger years, she would set a goal and she would do the work that it took to get there. But she also had an artistic side which later on became her love for music and going out and seeing concerts, which was something that we did together because that's something that I like as well. You're all different a little bit about your sisters, and you can tell your sisters.


Yeah, I would say whatever artistic Jean that you and Mara and Kathleen, and Curtis got, it skipped me.


People that don't know Mara wouldn't know how amazingly talented she was. I can think back to numerous times where she amazed me with things she could do. When we went skiing, and it was her first time ever on skis, and within two runs, she's going from top to bottom without falling down in just full speed like she's been skiing for years. She could jump on a mountain bike. Me and her would go mountain biking. I was training all the time. It was my thing. She would just jump on after never riding and stay right up with me. No problem. Would ride up mountain roads, we were straight up. She would be right there and turn around and she's right behind me. Somehow she was like a math lizard. Where did she get this math skill? I remember when I was taking classes and I was much older than her, so I was probably 20 or 21, and Mara was probably around 10. I'm like, Mara, look at this. Let me show you something here. I was studying math at the time for my classes, and I show her some algebra. She had never seen algebra, didn't know what it was.


After about a half hour or something, she's got a neck for it. It took me a A whole year of frustration to learn algebra, and I show her and she's doing it a half hour later, no problem. Things like that. She would amaze you. I miss her terribly. It's hard to talk about sometimes. She's in my thoughts every day, and I remember her in those terms, and that's just who she was. That's who she is to me.


I thought Curtis was the only one that was going to make me cry. Curtis, can you talk about what it was like growing up with Maura?


It was a lot of fun. She loved to tease. She was very free-spirited. She was a very, very active part of my life and took a lot of time to do cool things, go on adventures, go to beaches, and we used to ride bikes and things like that, hike together. Mara was really thoughtful and took being a big sister very seriously. It was pretty amazing.


Do you have any particular stories or memories from when you were growing up that stand out in your mind?


Yeah, many. The best times were, I've talked about this before, when she'd run, I'd ride my bike with her, we'd go to different places, and in particular, would go to a golf course nearby in Pembroke. At night, we'd go on to the golf course and collect golf balls and go on little adventures like that. She She also, once she got her license, she loved to take rides. We went to a couple of roads where she'd hill top her car. It's gain speed and go over the top really fast. That was the stuff she loved to do. It was a lot of fun. It was a lot of good memories.


You seem to be avoiding the batting practice memory.


Oh, God. Yeah, it was a lot of that. A lot of baseball drills and running when I'd screw up. You both did that. But out in the by the house, we do batting practice a lot and ground ball drills and all sorts of stuff like that. It was awesome, and it made me a much better baseball player. I really appreciated it, and it helped me to stick with baseball when Otherwise, I may not have because I didn't necessarily have someone to train with me all the time. They made a big difference.


Yeah, and she was a big help with schoolwork as well, right? Oh, yeah.


I remember when I was really young, I had trouble writing, and she used to drill me on penmanship and things. Consequently, to this day, I write a lot like she does. Penmanship is very similar. It's funny. But yeah, she took a lot of time, and obviously, she was brilliant, so she was a great resource for anything. School-related.


I asked my dad about the name Mara and how he remembers Mara growing up.


It's a very unusual name. It was at that point, and there weren't any Maras around. I had Maybe he only heard that name a couple of times in my life, but I loved it. I absolutely loved that name. I still do. Your mother liked it. No disagreement on it. We didn't really consider anything else. I liked it the first time we heard it, so we went for Mahr. She was enthusiastic about everything, didn't whine or try to get out of things, insisted on being a full participant, and always did well. No matter what she did, she did it as well as anybody else. She wanted to stay up and be an equal. And she's, oh, God, close to two and a half years younger. And she reacted very excitedly to being teased. It annoyed the heck out of her. And she was complaining about it. And the more she complained, the more she'd get teased. And she was upset with me because I wouldn't take stronger action. But I told you, kids, It never gets physical because you kids were bigger than Maura. I wanted to make sure that was an operating rule, the operating basic principle.


It really annoyed Mara, and she She fought back. She didn't take a backward step. She stood up to you, too. It's a trait she kept forever. It was funny to watch, but of course, I couldn't smirk or anything like I had to be stern and hold a line of justice, even though I was getting a kick out of it, too. But I kept order within reason. In fact, I remember enforcing it. We were up in New Hampshire, had gone up for the weekend, but we were coming down from one of our heights, and you two were bothered, the older two, were bothering Mara. They were teasing the heck out of her, and she was getting madder and madder and red in the face and that I do something. I told, You kids, If you touch her, you were giving a little prods in the back. We were coming down because I was leading the way, and she really got annoyed. I said, It never gets physical. You girls know where. If it gets physical, we're going home tomorrow morning. We're not staying for an extra night. Sure enough, one of you kept poking her, poking her, poking her.


I backed it up and called a cessation to that trip and cut it short. And we went home a day early and the person that was doing the prodding was you, Julie. I remember it. I can laugh at it now and I laughed at it later. But I was looking forward to staying, but I had to do something. As I told you, all the girls had cut it out. I could see the furrow it was causing. So I hardly ever actually enforced what I said I was going to do. Carried through in a threat to do something. But that time I did. That shook everybody up, and Mora was satisfied. She didn't mind going home because I had wreaked justice on her tormentus. It was funny. So it was one of those things that happened that stands out in my memory. Basically, all you kids, you two younger ones, you, Julie and Mara, never got anything but an A. Kathleen did pretty well, too, and Fred did decently, but Mara was chasing you, and she was a bright kid anyway, so she certainly couldn't get anything less than an A. So she did her work.


But I think it came a little bit easy to her, certain subjects. She'd always point it out. She'd open the report and stick it in my face. She matched your A for age or constantly every time. I had the sense that that meant a lot to Mara. They had achievement awards, and she brought the house down. She nearly swept nearly everything, high honor roll and right up top in marks and all the athletic awards and even the best essay writing award. Even when there's a little kid, we talk to her and explain something to her once she had it. If I tried to teach her something about sports, she'd pick it right up. She could do anything. You were both outstanding, athletically, both driven. So I spent time with you because you adapted to it so well, and it didn't take very long for it to work. You listened and you did. I could tell that you were practicing on your own, that you wanted to do it. You enjoyed doing it well. It showed. And I could tell when you were in groups with other kids that you were doing it better. And you kids could tell that you were doing things better and faster and more effective, and you seemed to enjoy it.


You probably worked even harder. I never had to encourage that or anything.


We spent every summer camping and hiking in the white mountains of New Hampshire. We looked forward to it all year. It was an affordable way for my parents to spend quality time with the kids, and we loved it. We camped at Jigger Johnson Campground off Route 112 in New Hampshire. Ironically, this is not far from where Mara's car was found abandoned in 2004. Hiking was a huge part of our upbringing. My father set a goal to climb all 48 New England's 4,000-foot peaks, and we joined him for most of those. The White Mountains became our second home, and we felt most at peace there. This is one of the reasons why I believe Mahr was traveling to New Hampshire in the first place.


Well, I wanted to take your kids on vacations, but I didn't have a ton of money, and I didn't want to waste a lot of money, what money I had. So it didn't cost much to go camping. The fee was $2 a night or something like that, but it was out in the woods, and I always liked that when I'm growing up. And I thought the kids would love it because there are mountains to climb, there is a river to swim in, there are ponds to swim in. There's something to do every minute of every day. Animals to see, there are moose, there are bear, and you have a chance to see and all this stuff. It was just great for kids. Since your earliest days as tiny kids, I brought you up there every time. I remember changing Mara's diapers as a tiny little thing in the tent. She had been there since the very beginning, what all you kids did.


Well, climbing for me started with Maura, and it didn't start at Machagora. The first time I hiked with her was actually at a trail called Boulder Loop, which is another fairly difficult, albeit short trail. I remember on that particular trail, I a brat. I didn't like it because it was really difficult. It was hot. There were bugs, and I was young. I just remember Maura never let it get to her that I was being a jerk about it, for lack of a better word. She was always very encouraging. And that broke me in. And by the end of it, we had so much fun because she made it fun for me. She went out of her way to come up with ways to make it more enjoyable, I guess. So on parts of the trail where it would be a down slope that was smooth, she'd just say, To let yourself go and let yourself go and just run down the slope and have fun with it and made games out of it. And eventually, the first real mountain I ever climbed was Machagora, and I climbed that with her. I remember she was very good about bringing trail mix, and she taught me about the piles of rocks at the top and how they mark trails and things like that.


We had a lot of fun, and it was a great day. That got me hooked on hiking from there.


My grandfather on my mother's side was a drinker, and so was my mother over time. I think we all had a bit of addictive personalities. I certainly have some level of undiagnosed OCD. I wouldn't say it's any more problematic than any other average family. In fact, I think our addictive personalities was part of what made Mar and I successful. Humble bragg here, but not every family has two kids accepted into West Point. Our dad was an avid runner and completed nine marathons. Mar and I would beg him to take us on his marathon training runs. To placate us, after finishing some of his longer ones, he would take us on a cool down around the block. It was about a quarter of a mile, and he would tell us it was a marathon. Mar and I would sprint the last part, pretending it was Boylston Street, the final stretch of the Boston course. We also played soccer, softball, basketball. Hell, we even made up our own competitions in the front yard. But we always gravitated back to running It was in our blood. In middle school, we had this annual one and a half mile race called the turkey trot.


One year, I won it, and I was instantly hooked. A couple of years later, Mara ran it and shattered my middle school record, beating not only all the girls, but all the boys. She was incredible. Winning the turkey trot meant we got to take home the grand prize, an actual turkey. Some years, we took home two turkeys for Thanksgiving. Mara developed a tight-knit group of friends, and they maintained their friendship through college. They were all the type A classic overachievers competing with each other for top of the class. School work came easy for Mara. She took advanced placement courses and tutored other kids who needed help, myself included. She was on the Latin Club and National Honor Society and scored a 1420, nearly perfect on the SATs. Mara was my best friend. We sat together on the bus, to and from track meets, strategizing and talking shit. We did everything together. For a younger sister, she was so kind to me, even at times when I didn't deserve it. Mara was a multisport standout, making the varsity basketball team as a freshman. She competed in the state free throw Championship held at the iconic Boston Garden.


I was her ball girl. On the track, she was a phenom. As a sophomore, she qualified for US Nationals and finished 33rd in the country. She was also a Boston globe Allscholastic, which is a huge honor in Massachusetts for any sport. Personally, I knew growing up that I needed to find a way to pay for college to take some of that stress off my parents. Running, coupled with academics, seemed like the ticket. So I poured my heart and soul into both, and I encouraged Mara to do the same. And it paid off, quite literally. I got accepted into the United States Military Academy at West Point, which is fully funded, and cadets pay no tuition to attend. Free tuition to arguably the most prestigious school in the country? It was a no-brainer for me. Mara would visit me at West Point quite often. It was about a four and a half hour ride from Hansen. I loved the academy, and I talked it up big time to her. I wanted her there with me. Mara went on to graduate from high school with almost every record in Whitman Hansen's school history at the time, and she graduated fourth in her class.


Naturally, she had her pick of colleges. Recruiting letters came in from the top schools, Harvard, Yale. I When you asked my dad about Mara deciding to go to West Point. Did you pressure Mara to go to West Point?


When it comes to West Point, Jules, she hadn't applied, but I told her she could go to the Naval Academy. She could apply there and expect to get in. And that's another way she could go. I told her she could go to the Coast Guard Academy if she wanted. These were all prestigious places, and she could get in. I knew she could get in. I figured she could get in army, especially since she was being recruited. So I told her she had options. She didn't even listen to me. I know she didn't. She applied to West Point, got into West Point, never applied to the other places. You could have gone to Navy. You had your choice. I thought Air Force was out of the question because it was way too far. She wouldn't want to be that far away. There was no second guessing. It was army the West Point, Military Academy, all the way from the start. There was no question. I could sense that I knew it, and she said it, I'm going to West Point.


She had her pick of schools, so she could have gone She was recruited by Harvard, Brown, Yale. Why do you think she chose West Point out of every option in the world?


I had the same question. I was thinking, Yale was in the same direction. It's an easy visit. It's It was a highly prestigious place, a local coat, not a local coat, but fairly local, that knew her and had followed her, whose daughter competed against Mara, who I knew was going to go to Yale. Knew how good Mara was and was interested in recruiting her for Yale to be on the team with his daughter. It would have been good for Mara. It would have been good. I thought it was a good idea. I wouldn't have objected to that. I think it was a full ride, and she had the academics to go. So Mara pretty much had her pick, and I thought I would have encouraged she. I even suggested it. But it was West Point all the way. Boom. I think she wanted to go to school with you. You had always been together, and I could sense it, and I certainly didn't want to get in the way of that.


So West Point it was. Mara was awarded a congressional nomination from the late Senator Ted Kennedy, just as I had two years prior. I was psyched. My best friend was set to join me at the academy. Join me next episode as we do a deep dive into Mara's time at West Point. If you have any information regarding the disappearance of my sister, Mara Murray, please contact the New Hampshire State Police Cold Case Unit at 603-223-3648, or visit maramurrymissing. Org. Special special thanks to my friend, Sara Turne, whose trust and guidance made this project possible. Media Pressure is a Voices for Justice media original and is executive-produced by Sara Turne. This series includes original music from my brother, Curtis Murray, as well as Blue Dot Sessions. I'm your host, Julie Murray. For more information about Media Pressure, visit mediapressure. Com. For more information about my sister, Mara's case, visit maramurrymissing. Org.