Harringtons Retrace Morgan's Final Steps
A year ago Wednesday, the body of former Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington was discovered. Tuesday, Harrington's parents made a visit to the place their daughters body was found, Anchorage Farm in Albemarle County.
The Harringtons and police are pleading for the final tip they need to hunt down her killer, a person they believe is still living right here.
"It's my walk to walk," said Gil Harrington. "I wanted to be in this place one time, just one time."
It was a tearful trek for Dan and Gil Harrington retracing the steps their daughter's killer took to dump her body. The secluded field on Anchorage Farm in southern Albemarle County is where a farmer discovered Morgan's remains one year ago Wednesday. The Harringtons invited NBC29 and select members of the media to join them on their first visit to this spot.
"It was my right as a parent to come walk this land," said Gil Harrington. "I wanted to see it. I needed to see it."
The field is far from any road, accessible by a rugged hike through the farm or across a stream a few hundred yards from the Blandemar Farm Estates. Virginia State Police Special Agent Dino Cappuzzo is leading the murder investigation.
"That was a specifically chosen location, because they felt comfortable there," he said. "They felt it was a safe location to go."
The timeline has not changed. Morgan left the Metallica concert at the John Paul Jones Arena, was spotted stumbling through the Lannigan Field parking lot before hitchhiking and vanishing from the Copeley Road Bridge.
"I'm extremely confident that this person is still moving about in this community," stated Cappuzzo. "I'm very confident that this person is familiar with this farm, this area, this Red Hill area."
Police say they have tracked a thousand tips but have no fresh leads since a DNA match to a 2005 sexual assault in northern Virginia.
"Obviously, it's frustrating, but we knew from the very beginning that this was going to be a difficult investigation because the monumental amount of information that comes flowing into this, these types of investigations, takes a great deal of time to work through that," said Cappuzzo.
The Harringtons say they never need to return to the site, but they do not want the community to forget Morgan's killer is likely among them.
"Spit out this evil criminal," urged Gil Harrington. "And let us have him arrested and save another young woman."
If you have any information that can help investigators, call the special state police tip line at 434-352-3467.
Oct. 17, 2009 –
- 8:20 – 8:30 p.m.* - Miss Harrington is outside the arena near the main entrance and is attempting to re-enter the arena, but is told that arena policy requires her to have a ticket stub to do so.
- 8:30 – 8:48 p.m.* - Witnesses recall seeing a woman fitting Miss Harrington's description outside the arena at various locations.
- 8:48 p.m.* - Miss Harrington talks to her friends by cell phone.
- 8:48 – 9:00 p.m.* – Additional sightings of her outside the arena are reported.
- 9:00 - 9:10 p.m.* - Miss Harrington is seen walking through the University Hall parking lot towards Lannigan Field.
- 9:10 – 9:20 p.m.* - Individuals report seeing Miss Harrington walking in the grassy, overflow parking lot at Lannigan Field. The lot is often used for RV parking.
- 9:20 – 9:30 p.m.* - She is seen walking on the Copeley Road railroad bridge, between Ivy Road and the track at Lannigan Field. Investigators are asking for anyone who might have seen a young woman fitting Miss Harrington's description getting into a vehicle around this time or later to contact police. Also, anyone who might recall seeing a vehicle randomly stopped in the roadway on Copeley Road that night is asked to notify police.
- Her purse and cell phone were found by a passerby Sunday morning (Oct. 18) in the grassy, overflow parking lot next to Lannigan Field.
Oct. 25, 2009 – Metallica increases reward in the search for Harrington, adding an additional $50,000 to the CrimeStoppers' $100,000, and raising the reward to $150,000.
Oct. 27, 2009 – Morgan's parents, Dan and Gil Harrington, take the search national by appearing on the Today show.
Nov. 4, 2009 – Harringtons hold press conference, announce volunteer weekend search. Father of Elizabeth Smart, Ed Smart, reaches out to family.
Nov. 12, 2009 – Harringtons appear on Dr. Phil show.
Nov. 14, 2009 – Harringtons make second appearance on Today Show.
Dec. 9, 2009 – Virginia State Police collect DNA samples from Harringtons
Dec. 30, 2009 – Lead investigator says Harrington is either being held against her will or is no longer alive. Credible leads and tips begin to dry up.
Jan. 26, 2010 – Skeletal remains are found in a remote area of Anchorage Farm, off Route 29 in southern Albemarle County. Early reports indicate the remains are that of a young woman with long blond hair. She was wearing dark clothing and a bracelet.
Jan. 27, 2010 - Virginia State Police confirm that the body found on Anchorage Farm in southern Albemarle County early Tuesday is, in fact, that of Morgan Harrington.
Feb. 2, 2010 – Richmond Medical Examiner officially rules Harrington's cause of death a homicide.
Feb. 4, 2010 – Virginia State Police set up separate tip hotline dedicated solely to information pertaining to Anchorage Farm, saying the location where Harrington's body was found is key to solving the case.
Feb. 5, 2010 – Harringtons hold final memorial for their daughter in Roanoke.
Mar. 5, 2009 – Virginia General Assembly passes resolution honoring Harrington.
Apr. 15, 2010 – Virginia State Police confirm black t-shirt found on Nov. 11, 2009 in Charlottesville is the one Harrington was last seen in the night of the concert. Police announce they have pursued close to a thousand leads and interviewed over 100 people as part of the investigation.
July 1, 2010 – Virginia State Police announce forensic connection between the Harrington case and an unsolved sexual assault case in Fairfax City from 2005. Composite sketch of suspect is release to general public.