Murder of Morgan Dana Harrington

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Morgan Harrington
Morgan Harrington courtesy photo.jpg
Born Morgan Dana Harrington
July 24, 1989
Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S.[1]
Died October 17, 2009(2009-10-17) (aged 20)
Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S.
Cause of death
Homicide
Body discovered
January 26, 2010
Nationality American
Known for Missing person and murder victim

Morgan Dana Harrington of Roanoke, Virginia (July 24, 1989 - October 17, 2009) was a 20-year-old Virginia Tech student who disappeared from the John Paul Jones Arena on October 17, 2009 while attending a Metallica concert at the University of Virginia (UVA). Her disappearance initiated one of the largest searches in Charlottesville, Virginia's history. Harrington's remains were discovered three months later in rural farmland. A forensic connection has been made to the principal suspect in the disappearance of Hannah Graham, a University of Virginia student who is believed to have been abducted on September 13, 2014.[2]

Disappearance[edit]

On October 17, 2009, Harrington and three friends drove to the John Paul Jones Arena for the concert. During the opening act's performance, Harrington told friends that she was going to the restroom. When she did not return, they called her cell phone at 8:48pm and she told them that she was locked out of the arena because of its "no re-entry" policy. She added that she would find a way home and they should not worry. According to witness reports, she was last seen at around 9:30pm hitch-hiking on a nearby bridge. There are also two witnesses who claim to have seen her with three men after she had left the arena.

The following day, her purse with her identification and cell phone (with batteries removed) was discovered in one of the arena's overflow parking areas, the RV lot at UVA's Lannigan Athletic Field.[3][4]

Police composite sketch of suspect.

Her remains were discovered on January 26, 2010, about ten miles (16 km) from the arena in a remote area of a 742-acre (3.00 km2) farm and at least one and a half miles from road access. Although investigators have not released information about her death, her parents confirmed that the death had been very violent and bones were broken.[5]

In April 2010, law enforcement confirmed that a Pantera T-shirt that was found in November 2009 outside of an apartment building about a mile and a half from the arena, was indeed the shirt she had been wearing on that evening according to forensic tests.[6] Police also determined a forensic link between the murder and an abduction and sexual assault in Fairfax, Virginia, in September 2005.[7] They also believe that the killer may be familiar with the area where Harrington's body was found.[8]

Harrington's mother Gil confirmed on May 17, 2010, that her daughter had been raped: "It has been seven months since Morgan was abducted, raped, and murdered. Still no resolution! We find some comfort in having recovered her body; knowing it is better than not knowing and trying to 'fill in the blanks'".[9]

Aftermath[edit]

Morgan Harrington's mother, Gil, with a self-portrait by her daughter.

The case achieved such widespread national attention that the Virginia General Assembly honored the murdered student with a special resolution.[10]

The killing provoked fears, expressed by her parents in many meetings with media including national television broadcasts, that a serial killer might be living in Virginia.[5] DNA was later tied to a September 2005 attempted abduction in Fairfax City.[11]

Crimestoppers has offered a $100,000 reward and the band, Metallica, has added an additional $50,000 reward for information leading to a conviction.[12]

Her parents continued to appear at numerous special events including the University of Virginia's annual "Take Back the Night" rally[13] and urged UVA administrators to work toward a safer campus.

In September 2014, Harrington's case was linked to the disappearance of Hannah Graham in Charlottesville, Virginia, through "forensic evidence" pertaining to the main suspect in the latter case.[14][15] On October 20, 2014, the suspect in the Graham investigation was indicted in the 2005 Fairfax abduction.[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rachel DePompa (2 February 2010). "Medical examiner rules Morgan Harrington's death a homicide". WECT TV6-WECT.com. Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
  2. ^ EXCLUSIVE: Forensic evidence links Hannah Graham suspect to murdered Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington. CBS News. September 29, 2014.
  3. ^ Simon, Mallory. "Police 'fairly certain' remains are student missing from Metallica concert", CNN, January 27, 2010.
  4. ^ Stuart, Courteney."Hitchhiking: Missing Morgan Harrington sought a ride", The Hook. Charlottesville, Virginia. Nov. 13, 2009.
  5. ^ a b Stuart, Courteney. "‘Shattered bones,’ Harringtons say Morgan’s killer is ‘violent, sadistic’", The Hook. Charlottesville, Virginia. March 17, 2010.
  6. ^ Stuart, Courteney. "Pantera find: Shirt on 15th Street was Morgan Harrington’s". The Hook, Charlottesville, Virginia. April 15, 2010.
  7. ^ "Search Still On for Harrington Suspect One Year After Sketch". NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather. 11 July 2011. Retrieved 20 October 2014. 
  8. ^ "Morgan Harrington's Killer Knew Obstacles in Farm Area - ABC News". Abcnews.go.com. Retrieved 2012-09-01. 
  9. ^ Laura says:. "Blog Archive » Gil Harrington’s thoughts from May 17th, 2010". findmorgan.com. Retrieved 2012-09-30. 
  10. ^ "Virginia general assembly honors former VTC intern Morgan Harrington: House Joint Resolution No. 357". Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute, 2010.
  11. ^ Morgan Harrington's Death Linked to Case in Fairfax, accessed September 6, 2014
  12. ^ "One Of Our Fans Is Missing", Metallica.com , January 9, 2010.
  13. ^ Spencer, Hawes. "Harrington, Seccuro help UVA ‘take back the night’", The Hook. Charlottesville, Virginia. April 10, 2010.
  14. ^ LAURA FRENCH; SCOTT WISE; ALIX BRYAN; NICK DUTTON (29 September 2014). "Forensic evidence links Hannah Graham and Morgan Harrington cases". WTVR.com. WEB STAFF. Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
  15. ^ "Evidence links suspect in Hannah Graham abduction to '09 case". Fox News. 29 September 2014. Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
  16. ^ Graff, Henry (20 October 2014). "Jesse Matthew Indicted for 2005 Sexual Assault in Fairfax County". WVIR. Retrieved 20 October 2014. 

External links[edit]