Harrington Case Becoming A Criminal Investigation.Posted: Updated:
The Morgan Harrington case is shifting from a missing person's case to a criminal investigation. That's the word from investigators after a body believed to be that of Morgan was found on a small farm in Albemarle County Tuesday.
State police remain steadfast that this is a homicide investigation. They are asking how this body ended up in a remote farm field, and who is responsible for it being there.
Seven hours after investigators started searching the 700-acre southern Albemarle farm there was a somber announcement from state police.
Virginia State Police Superintendent Colonel Steve Flaherty said, "We make the following announcements with heavy hearts. We are fairly confident at this time that the remains are those of Morgan Dana Harrington."
The owner of Anchorage Farm, located off Route 29 South near Red Hill Road, found skeletal remains early Tuesday morning in a remote hay field. The farm is about seven miles south of where Morgan Harrington was last seen on October 17th leaving the Metallica concert at the John Paul Jones Arena.
Virginia State Police Lieutenant Joe Rader says tips never led them in to Tuesday's discovery. "Just because a body is found in a particular location doesn't mean that it would have been prudent to search that particular location at that time."
Investigators would not pinpoint exactly what evidence they found at the scene to make them believe the body is Harrington's.
Colonel Flaherty says, "There are significant items of evidence that makes us fairly confident that scientific procedure will confirm the ID."
Morgan's parents, Dan and Gil, were called from their home in Roanoke to Charlottesville to help identify the remains as their daughters.
Now the state medical examiner in Richmond will examine the remains, using dental records and DNA to positively identify them.
Lt. Rader says, "This is an important step for us in this investigation. We now have something to look at to lead us in a new direction. We still proceed as if this is a homicide and most likely will be a homicide. We have a perpetrator or perpetrators at large that we certainly intend to catch and to prosecute."
Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney Denise Lunsford declined to comment on her office's involvement in the investigation. State Police are hoping this discovery may stir up some new tips in Harrington's disappearance. The tip line number is 434-352-3467.
A positive identification from the medical examiner could come as soon as Wednesday.