In memory of Morgan Dana Harrington:
The search for Morgan Harrington made headlines all over the United States. Even though they hoped for the best, Morgan’s friends and family probably knew in their hearts how dire the situation was. On Sunday, October 18, 2009, after police had been provided with a picture, and information that Morgan had been missing for hours, Morgan’s parents went into action.
“Morgan’s a great kid,” said her father. “And this is very atypical behavior and she’s a wonderful person”
The reward was up to $150,000.00 with $50,000 of that being put up by the band that Morgan had gone to see, Metallica.
In early November a search was organized, but turned up no new leads.
There were unfounded reports all over the internet about Morgan’s activities that night. All the while, her parents stood strongly behind her.
Then less than two weeks later, a report that human remains have been found. Police feel confident they belong to Morgan Harrington.
Dan and Gil Harrington, though saddened, are relieved to finally have found their daughter.
Our prayers go out to them and the rest of Morgan’s family and friends.
The case as of 1-29-2010:
Skeletal remains found on a remote farm are those of a Virginia Tech student who disappeared after attending a Metallica concert in Charlottesville, state police said Wednesday.
Virginia’s chief medical examiner used Morgan Harrington’s dental records to make the confirmation, state police said in a statement. The cause and time of Harrington’s death have not been determined, said investigators, who have shifted to a homicide investigation.
Harrington, 20, disappeared Oct. 17 after attending the concert. A farmer inspecting his fields found her remains Tuesday about 10 miles from the auditorium.
Her father, Dan Harrington, said in a statement: “Morgan’s mother, Gil, and I are overwhelmingly saddened by yesterday’s discovery, but we are also relieved because our questions can now be answered and we can give our daughter a proper burial.”
At a brief news conference in Charlottesville, Dan Harrington said the location of the remains convinced him that someone local was linked to his daughter’s death. The remains were found on an isolated, 700-acre cattle farm about 10 miles outside of Charlottesville.
The Harringtons met with reporters at the Copley Road Bridge, where investigators have said witnesses last placed Morgan Harrington.
The best way to access the location where missing Virginia Tech student Morgan D. Harrington’s body was found is across a neighboring property, according to the Albemarle County farmer who found her remains.
“A lot of my neighbors who are outdoors people have said to me that they think the most logical entrance is from Blandemar Farm subdivision,” Dave Bass said.
The area, Blandemar Farm Estates, is a collection of large homes on cul-de-sacs, surrounded by vast expanses of clipped grass.
Bass said he saw police drive a car across that grass and through a neighbor’s hayfield to access a fence line near where the body was found on his farm. The farm is west of U.S. 29, near its intersection with Red Hill Road, about 5.5 miles south of Interstate 64.
“The easiest way by public road, even in a car, not an SUV or pickup or tractor, would be what I just described,” he said. “There is a barbed wire fence, but you couldn’t get to that place without crossing creeks or barbed wire fences.”
Harrington, 20, went missing after she left a Metallica concert held at the University of Virginia’s John Paul Jones Arena on Oct. 17. Bass discovered her remains Tuesday.
Bass, who lives on the farm with his wife and daughter, said they don’t get many trespassers, and it likely would have been difficult to sneak past the two homes — his and his daughter’s — on the road into his farm.
“It would be difficult for someone to pass either home without being noticed, but, you know, I’m not different than you. I don’t sit at the window all day looking for trespassers,” he said.
Anyone who did draw notice would be in a bind because of the long drive back out, he said. He didn’t see anything the night Harrington went missing, he said.
There is some illegal spotlighting of deer near the Hardware River, he said.
Relatively few people come onto the farm, he said.
“I don’t have any employees,” he said. “I do the farm myself, and … you know, we have the normal people that would come on any residential property to fix your air conditioning or your heating or your plumbing,” he said.
He said four hunters have permission to hunt the farm, and their names have been given to police.
He has also spoken at length with investigators, he said.
“I’ve spent a lot of time talking with them,” he said. “I don’t know if it helped them much. I tried.”
The area where the body was discovered was initially reported by police to be a hayfield. It was, in fact, a pasture with particularly tall grass, Bass said.
“It’s a creek bottom, and the grass grows real well, even though I bushhog it,” he said.
He added, “The only reason I think I saw it was the heavy deep snow.”
By the time the more than 20 inches of snow the region received in December melted, it had matted down tall grass all across the region.
In the particular pasture where Harrington was found, the grass had been at least knee-high, Bass said. He saw the remains because he was on a tractor, several feet off the ground, he said.
Bass initially thought the body was a deer, but when he saw what appeared to be a human skull, along with fingers and toes, he knew he had to call police, he said.
Virginia State Police still have no suspects, state police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said.
A rumor that circulated midday Thursday that police had made an arrest was unfounded, she said.
They’re also waiting on the medical examiner’s office for cause and time of death, she said.
Geller confirmed that police had finished examining the area where the remains were found by midday.
“Now that we’ve finished that part of the collection process at the scene, … we move into the analysis stage,” she said.
Bass praised the work he has seen police do.
“They’re very professional in my opinion, and I think they’ve done a fine job out here in terms of finding whatever they could and eliminating other alternatives, so I give them credit,” Bass said. “Now they’ve got to analyze what they’ve come up with from the medical examiner and from the site work, and hopefully for all of our sakes find some answers.”
Geller said police are examining a host of theories about what they presume is a homicide.
“Everything is open to consideration at this point,” she said.
Virginia State Police are still looking for tips at 352-3467.