Police Still Pursuing Leads in Morgan Harrington Case; Family Files Suit

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Morgan Harrington

Oct. 17 marked the two-year anniversary of the disappearance of 20-year-old Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington, whose skeletal remains were found in January 2010 in an Albermarle County field along Route 29.  State police are still pursuing leads in the case and are appealing for help from anyone who may have seen something significant, possibly without realizing it.  It was reported in March that a suspect had been arrested in Connecticut but no charges have yet been filed in the Harrington case.

Meanwhile, the Roanoke Times reported that the Harrington family has filed a $3.1 million lawsuit against Regional Marketing Concepts Inc., which operates under the name RMC Events. RMC provides security at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville.  Morgan Harrington was attending a Metallica concert at John Paul Jones Arena the night she disappeared. Police have said at some point, Harrington left the arena. When she tried to reenter, security guards refused to let her back in, citing a no-reentry policy.

After talking to her friends on her cell phone, she then walked through the University Hall parking lot and was seen in a parking lot next to Lannigan Field. At about 9:30 p.m., she was seen walking on the Copeley Road Bridge and then hitchhiking for a ride from passing traffic.

“We will leave no stone unturned,” said Gil Harrington, Morgan’s mother. “That’s what you do when you’re looking for the filth and the slime that festers in the dark. And once we pick those stones up, we will hurl them as hard as we can.”

The Harrington family has launched a national campaign, Help Save The Next Girl, which highlights the vulnerability of young women and urges  them to make the best choices for their own safety — and the safety of their friends.

Harrington was dressed that night in a black tee-shirt with the word “Pantera” spelled out in tan letters, black mini-skirt, black tights and knee-high black boots.  She was wearing a distinctive Swarovski Crystal necklace made of large crystal chain links, which investigators have yet to recover. Harrington’s tee-shirt was found Nov. 11, 2009, in front of a row of apartments along 15th St. NW near Grady Avenue in Charlottesville.

DNA evidence

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Composite sketch of suspect

DNA evidence recovered during the Harrington investigation links it to a 2005 sexual assault in the City of Fairfax.  Fairfax City Police were able to develop a composite sketch of the assailant. The suspect was described as a black male, between 25 and 35 years old. He is thought to be about 6-foot with a medium build, with black hair, a beard, and a mustache.

On March 5, police arrested a Connecticut man suspected in rapes and other attacks on at least 17 women since 1997.  The last known assault by the attacker authorities called the East Coast Rapist occurred on Halloween night in 2009, just a few weeks after Harrington’s disappearance, when two teenagers on their way home from trick-or-treating were raped in the Northern Virginia community of Woodbridge in Prince William County, authorities say.

In Virginia, police say they are still working the case actively and hoping for additional leads.

“We are especially interested in hearing from those individuals familiar with the Anchorage Farm property, and observations of unusual behavior in that area between Oct. 17, 2009 and Jan. 26, 2010,” said Lt. Joe Rader, Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation.  “A detail that may seem insignificant to one person may well be of critical importance to investigators and the information needed to advance this investigation even further.”

Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Jefferson Area Crime Stoppers at 434-977-4000; or the Virginia State Police at 434-352-3467 or by email at bci-appomattox@vsp.virginia.gov. A $150,000 reward ($100,000 from Crime Stoppers and $50,000 from Metallica) remains for anyone who can provide information that helps break the case.

 

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About the Author

Truman Lewis
A former reporter and bureau chief, Truman Lewis has covered presidential campaigns, state politics and stories ranging from organized crime to environmental and consumer protection.