No. 5 Top News Story: Peconic teen goes missing for 10 days

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | A missing person flier posted at the King Cullen in Cutchogue.
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | A missing person flier posted at the King Cullen in Cutchogue.

When a 16-year-old Southold High School student didn’t show up for school one day last February, local law enforcement launched a missing-person search that was unprecedented for the North Fork.

Ashley Murray, whose Feb. 25 disappearance resulted in a massive search that lit up the social media world, had left a handwritten “suicide note” in her bedroom mentioning a “watery grave” and had sent text messages to several friends saying she might end her life, her mother, Charlotte Murray, had said.

Because of the rural location of the Murray home, which is surrounded by trees and is in close proximity to creeks and the bay, Suffolk County police canine and aviation units were brought on early in the search process. Police later focused their efforts on interviewing friends and family members and examining phone and computer records.

Southold police partnered in the investigation with the FBI, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Suffolk police and the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office.

A group of Ashley’s friends and concerned citizens also gathered at the high school three days after the disappearance and handed out missing-person fliers across the North Fork. Ashley ultimately turned herself in March 8 to the Southold Town Police Department with an unidentified adult friend.

No charges have been made in the missing person’s case. Police said they believed she was a runaway, not abducted, and remained on the East End during her disappearance. They declined to disclose the location of where she had been during her disappearance.

Editor’s note: We’re counting down the top 10 news stories of 2013. Check back every day until Jan. 1 to follow along.