Harringtons Want Legislation to Improve Abduction Investigations
Dan and Gil Harrington are working alongside lawmakers and other parents affected by tragedy for change in the Virginia legislature - nearly four years after their daughter's body was found on an Albemarle County farm.
Morgan Harrington disappeared after a Metallica concert at Charlottesville's John Paul Jones Arena in 2009. But in Richmond Tuesday, the Harringtons joined other child advocates to push for legislation to help law enforcement work more efficiently in child abuse and abduction cases.
“An organized approach would have helped us, and certainly would help others in these situations,” Dan Harrington said. “Our law enforcement needs guidelines and protocols and resources to quickly mobilize to search for a missing person.”
The solution the Harringtons have in mind is a bipartisan child rescue initiative called "Every Second Counts." Another woman, also driven by the tragic death of a daughter, is also supporting the initiative. In 2002, Erin Runnion's 5-year-old daughter Samantha was kidnapped by a stranger who had said he was looking for a lost puppy. Twenty hours later, her body was found.
"The reality is in cases like my daughter's, the most extreme type of case, over 70 percent of those children who will be murdered are murdered within the first three hours, so every second counts," Runnion said.
She says lawmakers in Richmond have the power to make necessary changes.
"Their leadership will ensure that law enforcement from the investigation all the way through to the prosecution follows best practices for a rapid, well coordinated, multi-disciplinary response," Runnion said.
"It's really more than just bills," said 4th District Senator Ryan T. McDougle (R). "There are real lives and there are people that are associated with it."
Also included in Every Second Counts are bills that give extra resources to child rescue teams, establish multi-disciplinary teams in every jurisdiction, as well as provide for a crime commission study on rapid response to endangered and abducted children.