Tree Lighting Ceremony at Liberty Gas Station for Alexis Murphy
Alexis Murphy, the missing 17-year-old from Nelson County - was last seen alive exactly four months ago today. Tuesday night, her family reached out to the community to keep her memory alive.
Alexis left her home in Shipman Saturday, August 3 - reportedly heading toward Lynchburg. Surveillance video shows her at the Liberty gas station in Lovingston around 7:15 that night. That was the last time she was seen. Authorities arrested Randy Taylor, 48, on Sunday, August 11, and charged him with felony abduction in relation to the case. For more, click here.
About 100 of Alexis' family and community members gathered at the Liberty gas station to light a Christmas tree with pink lights as a beam of hope to bring Alexis home for the holidays.
"We haven't let go. We're still holding on, we're still praying for her, we're still looking for her and we're still hoping for her," said Jim Gannon, who lives in Nelson County.
Volunteers decorated the tree with pink bows, ornaments, and lights Tuesday to prepare for the ceremony. Saunders Brothers donated the tree, which was planted Monday night. They also set up a banner with a quote taken from the last post on Alexis' Facebook, which reads: "Keep hope alive, you're somebody."
Alexis' mother and father, Laura Ann Murphy and Troy Brown, say Thanksgiving without her was devastating, and now their goal is bringing her home for Christmas.
Trina Murphy, Alexis' great-aunt, has found comfort in someone who knows the family's situation all too well.
“One of the most important things that Gil Harrington gave us advice about is to make new normal, to make new routines around the holiday,” she said.
Gil Harrington is the mother of Morgan Harrington, who was missing for months before her remains were found on a farm in Albemarle County in 2010.
The tree lighting event for Alexis comes on the heels of an all-volunteer search in Nelson on Sunday. Her family says nothing substantial was found during the five-hour effort, but they hold onto hope.
"Never forget my daughter," Laura Ann Murphy said. "Just keep us in your prayers and just keep us in your hearts."
Family members say the tree - decked out in pink - is in true Alexis fashion. The Liberty gas station will keep the lights on until Alexis comes home.
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