Family Looks Back on Alexis Murphy's Life on 5th Anniversary of her Disappearance
Five years ago, tragedy struck Nelson County and the community continues to feel the loss.
NELSON COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Five years ago, tragedy struck Nelson County and the community continues to feel the loss.
Though a man is now behind bars for her murder, many questions remain in connection with 17-year-old Alexis Murphy's disappearance.
A big reason there are still so many questions is because Alexis Murphy’s body was never found. Despite multiple searches and efforts from several law enforcement agencies, the rising senior at Nelson County High School never reappeared.
And although family members say they got justice, they say they didn't get the closure they wanted.
Trina Murphy's mind floods with memories of her niece, Alexis, bringing joy to many people's lives.
“Your typical 17-year-old - vibrant, happy, looking forward to her senior year, captain of the volleyball team - small town all-around girl," says Murphy.
“Just a little angel,” says Anita Fitzgerald, a sales clerk at Shell gas station. “Just a little angel. My memory of her was when she was a little teeny girl."
Fitzgerald works at the Shell gas station in Lovingston, which is known to be a hangout spot for teenagers.
Five years ago, Alexis Murphy was last seen at that Shell station. Her family laid block letters of her name there to keep her memory alive.
"I pretty much come here every day, either to get gas or get coffee or if I don't come here I drive by it,” says Murphy. “So it's always a constant reminder."
On August 3, 2013, Alexis was heading to Lynchburg to shop for her senior pictures - but her trip was cut short.
Her car was later found in an Albemarle County parking lot.
Eventually, police tracked down a suspect – Randy Taylor – and found Alexis’ DNA in his home.
"I feel like we got justice, but we didn't get closure,” says Murphy. “And that's just something that we basically have to live with on a day-to-day basis.”
Taylor continued to claim his innocence until his sentencing date. That's when he told her family that he would tell them where Alexis was, but only if they lessened his life sentence.
Her family declined his offer.
“He would be young enough to reoffend if he got out, and I never wanna stand in front of another aunt or mother or sister or family member of someone that he had the opportunity to do this to again,” says Murphy.
Murphy believes the remains of her niece will one day be found.
At the Lovingston Shell station, employees say they'll keep the signs and letters out and continue to keep up hope.
"I think they gonna keep it there until she maybe will reappear one day,” says Fitzgerald. “We've got hope. We're not giving up on her."
Trina Murphy turned this tragic situation into action, joining forces with groups like Help Save the Next Girl in hopes of preventing other girls and young women from a similar fate.
The family has also established a scholarship fund in Alexis’ name that supports a Nelson County High School graduate.