Authorities from local and state agencies are continuing the search for a Peconic teenager who went missing nearly one week ago, and have searched more than 25 “geographical areas of interest” in Southold Town alone while interviewing nearly three-dozen close friends and family members, Town of Southold Police Chief Martin Flatley said.
Sixteen-year-old Ashley Murray’s disappearance has spawned a massive search and has included assets from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Suffolk County police, New York State police and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Flatley noted.
Murray was last seen leaving her home at 8 a.m. Monday, police said.
“It became evident that Ashley was truly missing and may have left her home with intentions of harming herself,” Flatley said in a statement Friday.
In an interview Saturday, the police chief told the Press that “there has not been any significant progress in finding her at this point,” but noted that the department is still tracking down all leads.
Several local news outlets have reported that Murray may have left behind a suicide note before disappearing. But her brother, Jaime Cradehl, told NBC New York that he doesn’t believe Murray went through with it.
“We think this is more of an attention grabber, a cry for help,” he said.
Flatley wouldn’t confirm the discovery of a suicide note but said there was information that made it “imperative to find her and [it's] the reason why we carried her as a missing person immediately.”
“Obviously there was enough there to make us alarmed and feel like we [needed] to go in that direction right away,” he added.
Authorities immediately deployed a K-9 unit, dive team and marine unit, Flatley said. Suffolk County police’s aviation unit was also deployed while officers on the ground conducted a physical search of neighboring areas.
Police acted quick because Murray’s “residence is very close to a network of creeks and bays within the North Fork of Long Island,” Flatley said, adding that K-9 units were dispersed to search vacant areas of interest.
As of Saturday, investigators have interviewed close to 35 family, friends, acquaintances throughout the state, including a relative that lives in upstate New York, Flatley said. Police also searched more than 25 geographical areas of interest within the Town of Southold.
Also on Saturday, Murray’s family released a statement to North Fork Patch that read:
We would like to sincerely thank the community and everyone involved in the efforts to find Ashley and return her safely, and also those who have taken up the heartfelt tasks of supporting the family during this difficult time.
We also appreciate all news reporters, news teams and informants for their help and would like to extend both our genuine thanks for helping to spread the word in our search for Ashley, as well as our request for privacy at this point.
Murray’s missing person flyer says she was last seen wearing a black and gray hooded sweatshirt, red sweatpants and black boots. Murray also wears hearing aids in both ears, police said.
She is described as white, 5-feet, 4-inches tall, 140 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes.
Murray’s friends and family are also doing their part and have organized their own search with the help of volunteers.
Investigators are encouraging anyone with information about Murray’s disappearance to contact Southold police at 631-765-2600.
The police chief said the search gets “very difficult” as the days go on. The “possibilities are almost endless as to where she could be,” he added, “where she could’ve gone, who she could’ve met with…it’s frustrating because it’s very difficult. But its something we have to keep doing until she’s either accounted for somewhere or until we find her.”