Family Struggles for Normalcy as Search for Alexis Murphy Continues
The search for a missing Nelson County teenager has been underway for almost three weeks now. Alexis Murphy's family has been hoping for the best, but they are coping with the reality that she's still not home.
Alexis, 17, 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 Allen Taylor, 48, on Sunday, August 11, and charged him with felony abduction in relation to the case. For more, click here.
Alexis' great-aunt Trina Murphy says the past three weeks have been a living nightmare for the family.
"Really there's not a whole lot anybody can say other than 'I'm thinking about you, I'm praying for you.' So when you have to explain it a lot, it makes you kind of re-live the whole thing over and over again," said Trina.
Neither of Alexis' parents has been able to go back to work since their daughter disappeared - but Trina says Alexis' mother, Laura Ann Murphy, is staying strong.
"If it was my daughter, my only daughter and I only have one, I don't think I could be as strong as she is," said Trina.
Laura Ann usually works overnight for the post office in Sandston - so she could be home with the kids during the day. Her commute from their home in Shipman is two and a half hours, one way.
"I think if I were Alexis' mother, working would be impossible. How would you focus? I would be terrified if my niece was driving two and a half hours with all of this on her mind to go to work. I would not feel good about that," said Trina.
Trina says many of Laura Ann's co-workers have donated leave - so there's some financial stability as the search for her daughter continues.
Alexis's father works for Westover Dairy.
The family has sold more than 300 Alexis Murphy T-shirts to help the family cover living costs. An online fund has also raised more than $1,600 for the family.
"Even though they're not working, real life still continues so just making sure we're supporting them in that effort and that's not something extra that they have to worry," said Trina.
Alexis' parents will be taking her older brother, Avery, back to start his junior year at Longwood University on Saturday. The family says focusing on a sense of normalcy is helping them hold out hope to bring Alexis home.
As the family copes with Alexis' absence, investigators continue their search for her.
The commonwealth says Taylor abducted Murphy, but Taylor says another man is responsible. Law enforcement has not commented on the specifics of its investigation.
Attorney and NBC29 legal expert Lloyd Snook says it's critical for investigators to explore all leads - especially if they don't believe Taylor's story.
"Anytime a defense version gets out, the prosecution is going to look into it, explore it - partly because its their job to see that justice is done, partly they know if they are going to see that at trial, don't wait 'til the day before trial to start exploring it," said Snook.
Snook added that in cases when the wrong person has been imprisoned, it is often because police stopped the investigation when "they got to where they thought they had enough and they didn't continue to run down what seemed like other extraneous leads."
Alexis' family says they feel certain the FBI will leave no stone unturned.