Kelly Jolkowski - An All American Girl
Friday, September 30, 2005
Some people just don’t think about the missing. If it’s not someone they know and love,
and they have never been touched by it in some way, it’s just another one of many sad
things that happen in this life.
I admit that I used to be one of those people. If I ever saw the story of a missing person
on the news, I would think “How sad.” and it would leave my mind just as quickly as it
entered it. I certainly never thought that someone I love would be on the evening news.
It’s not that I didn’t care. I had no connection to it. When it happens to you, things
change very rapidly. Now I work to help others understand by sharing these stories
from the heart. Even if they do not know anyone missing themselves, perhaps
something they read will help them connect, help them to care, and help them to want
In doing this work, I get to know many families of the missing. That is the other side of
what I do. I hear the stories and provide a listening ear for the airing of frustrations and
the outpouring of tears. I get to know some of them better than others because of time,
circumstance, and shared philosophies. I feel strongly about each case being more
than just a number and a physical description. They are all people who are loved, and
have hopes and dreams.
Sometimes a story comes along that is harder to write than some of the others. This is
one of those stories: a tale of an All-American girl-next-door whom I have come to know
and love through her family.
I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Maura Murray. I’ve never stood face to face
with her astonishing beauty. I’ve never looked into her twinkling eyes and observed the
dimples that made her all the more lovely. Some day, I hope that I will meet her. I feel
as if I do know her personally, which makes it difficult to tell the world she is lost to us.
I came to know her primarily through Sharon Rausch, Maura’s future mother-in-law.
Sharon loves Maura so deeply. Because of this deep love, for a brief period of time
after I started to work for them on Maura’s case, I thought she was Maura’s mother.
This weekend you will also come to know Maura through the eyes of those who love
her. You’ll learn to what great lengths a father will go for his daughter in an attempt to
find her. You will know that love truly has no bounds for this All-American girl.
It’s been a long and difficult road for the Murrays and the Rausches since Maura
disappeared. On the night of February 9, 2004, Maura was driving on Route 112 near
Haverhill, NH. Her car slid into a snow bank on a hairpin curve. The temperature was
12 degrees and dropping with light snow falling. She had personal belongings in her
car, including gloves. She did not take her gloves with her into the dark, bitter night.
What happened after that remains a mystery.
Saturday, October 01, 2005
10/01/05 The All-American Girl Part II
Getting to Know You
I want you to know Maura as I do. To know her is to love her, and in loving her, you will
want her found, too.
The following is an excerpt from Maura’s Adopt a Missing Person bio, as written by her
future mother-in-law, Sharon. These personal bios are included with every button on
the program and mailed to caring persons who pledge to wear Maura’s photo button
and share her story. http://www.projectjason.org/adopt.html
“Maura Murray was born May 4, 1982 in eastern Massachusetts. From a very young
age, she showed outstanding athletic ability. Her father Fred Murray encouraged her
and often coached her in youth leagues including basketball, softball, and soccer.
Maura also loved to hike and run. Although soccer was her best sport, she loved
basketball and running the most. As a freshman in high school, Maura was the starting
point guard on the high school varsity team. During her sophomore year, she gave up
all sports to concentrate on running track and cross country. Maura set and still holds
many running records in all levels of competition in the state of Massachusetts.
Before Maura’s disappearance, she also excelled in academics. In 2000, she graduated
fourth in her high school class. She scored 1420 out of 1600 on her college SAT
entrance exam, and was accepted as a cadet at the United States Military Academy at
West Point. Maura spent 1 ½ years at West Point majoring in Chemical Engineering
before she transferred to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst to pursue a major
in Nursing. At both West Point and U Mass, Maura excelled in the class room and on
the cross country courses and track fields. She was on the Dean’s List each semester
until her disappearance.
Maura has a bubbly and vibrant personality. She loves life as evidenced by her
constant smile which is framed by her amazing dimples and dazzling white teeth. Maura
is a quiet person for the most part, but she has a wonderful sense of humor and is
known for her kind wit and sarcastic comebacks. Smiling and quiet laughter are as
natural to Maura as breathing.
Thank you notes from Maura were received by anyone who offered to her the slightest
kindness. She enjoyed cards decorated with cows. She often would send a ‘Birthday
Card’ or a ‘Thinking of You Card’ with a picture of a cow and change the wording to
make a rhyme to offer her appreciation. A thank you from Maura is always a treat.
Maura’s favorite color is blue. She likes fruit and French-Vanilla Coffee for breakfast.
She appreciates simple things like Gala or Fuji Apples or a “just ripe banana”. A large
salad with all of the fixings is Maura’s choice for lunch or dinner each day. She loves to
try new recipes and of course is expert in salad making.
Before her disappearance on Monday, February 9, 2004, Maura was looking forward to
receiving her engagement ring in the summer of 2004, graduating from Nursing School
in May 2005, and getting married in the summer or fall of 2005. She had already
arranged for a summer job beginning in June 2004 in a hospital in Oklahoma to be near
her boyfriend who is a lieutenant in the United States Army.
Maura is truly the All-American Girl. She is not only beautiful, but she is also kind,
funny, smart, optimistic, motivated, hard working, loyal and loving.”
Sharon shares one of her favorite memories of Maura: “This comes to mind EACH time
that I look out my kitchen window: Maura usually spent 3-6 weeks with us in the
summer. We own several acres and it seems that even with a small tractor, there is
always a need for some mowing. The first summer Maura was here, she softly said to
my husband in her Boston accent, "I see you have a sitting mower. I have always
wanted to ride a sitting mower."
My husband managed not to laugh at the "sitting mower" comment and asked her if she
would like him to teach her. She was thrilled. Now, the back 2-3 acres have never been
graded; only a few years ago they were used to grow corn or beans, so the ground has
lots of rolling mounds instead of being smooth. Bill and I sat on the patio and watched
as Maura literally flopped like a little rag doll on the tractor with the mowing blades
stopping each time gravity lifted her off of the seat (the tractor has a safety feature that
stops the mower if no one is sitting on the seat). Bill made the adjustment so the tractor
would mow and Maura would spend hours in low gear doing our work and then she
would THANK us for it.”
In an irony that must be very painful, Sharon and her family received a final letter from
Maura that was a thank you for her Christmas Gifts, which included fur lined gloves,
and an AAA Membership. Those items were left in her abandoned car on the very cold
night Maura disappeared.
Sharon’s daughter, Crystal, was looking forward to having Maura as her sister-in-law.
They shared many hours together. Crystal observed and admired Maura’s always
Maura’s friend Kate, wants us to know Maura, too: “Maura is a person that gets along
with everyone. She is outgoing and smart. She always makes you feel better if you're
down, and will always find a way to make you laugh at any situation, no matter how bad
it may seem.
There's a song, by Switchfoot…..the main line of the chorus is "We were meant to live
for so much more." I think of Maura whenever I hear the song because I know that she
is meant for success wherever she is because she puts everything into what she does.”
Another friend, Nast, tells us of Maura’s humility: “Maura is my friend. She was my
teammate. She is an athlete - like me. She is competitive - like me. She used to get
really nervous before every race - just like me. She used to do people's hair on the bus
rides to track meets - just like me - and then I would do hers. She was quiet, shy, but
fierce on the track. She laughed at all of my lame jokes and never noticed when the
boys noticed her. And she could dance! Boys had crushes on her and despite being on
a competitive women's track team where sometimes girls' egos run high, Maura did not
show not one bit....NOT even the slightest bit of an ego. She was so darn humble it
hurt. Not one person I know disliked her. She is such a great role model.”
Maura and the Rausches grew closer as her relationship with Billy blossomed:
“Maura and my, son Billy, had plans to marry in Sept of 2005 and to honeymoon in her
favorite of all places: The White Mountains of NH. She told me that at some point she
just wanted to "have lots of little Billies and grow old with Bill." Before, the little Billies,
she planned on a career in the medical field. She was in UMass BA nursing program
when she went missing, but she planned on pursuing additional advanced degrees
after her marriage.
Because Maura lived in MA and I live in OH, we were never together without her being
with Billy. Therefore, we did some cooking and cleaning together. I have some
wonderful memories of those times, but usually our time was spent with at least my son
and very often with many more of our family.
When I picture Maura, I see the look on her face each and every time that she looked
at my son. I saw it the first time my son introduced her to me. How could any mother fail
to care for someone who loved her son so deeply and unconditionally? Over the years,
the look of love continued to deepen and grow. It had taken on a special glow in Jan
2004 when I last saw her.”
The hope for the formal union for these two came to a crashing halt on Monday,
February 9th. This is the last email correspondence from Maura to Billy:
Date: Mon, 09 Feb 2004 13:00:06 -0500
Subject: hey hey
To: "Bill Rausch"
I love you more stud
I got your messages, but honestly, i didn't feel like talking to much of anyone, i promise
to call today though
How did this cherished All-American girl then disappear from the lives of those who