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Farm Searched, Morgan Harrington Investigation Continues

By: Bianca Spinosa; Jessica Jaglois; AP Email
By: Bianca Spinosa; Jessica Jaglois; AP Email

TIMELINE:

October 17 -- Morgan Harrington attends a Metallica concert at the John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville.

October 18 -- Harrington's family reports her missing when she didn't show up at her family's home in Roanoke to study for a test. Investigators start combing through the area where Harrington was last seen, which they say was 9:20 p.m. the night of the concert at the Copeley Road Bridge.

October 21 -- Police confirm they found Harrington's purse and cell phone in a parking lot between JPJ Arena and the University of Virginia's athletic fields.

October 23 -- CrimeStoppers offers a $100,000 reward for any information leading to Harrington's whereabouts. Metallica adds $50,000 the next day.

November 6 -- Harrington's parents and the Texas-based Laura Recover Center led a three-day search for her with more than 1,600 volunteers.

November 12 -- People magazine show Harrington in a feature, along with other missing people.

December 16 -- Virginia State Police comb through an area along Interstate 64 in the Ivy area looking for additional clues.

January 12 -- Harrington's parents announce plans for a new search, but it was called off because there was too much snow on the ground.

January 26 -- Virginia State Police respond to a call after the discovery of skeletal remains on a private farm in southern Albemarle County.

January 29, 2010

UPDATE:

Jefferson Area Crime Stoppers confirmed that no portion of the $150,000 reward for information in the Morgan Harrington case has been distributed.

Crime Stoppers is evaluating the situation as the investigation into Harrington's case continues. The money has not been awarded to anyone, including David Bass, the owner of Anchorage Farm who discovered Harrington's remains.

Virginia State Police, University of Virginia Police, Albemarle County Police and Charlottesville Police are working together, pursuing the new information, evidence, and leads that have become available since in recent days.

There is still no word yet on a cause or time of death.

Gil and Dan Harrington said "a wealth of physical evidence" has been collected in the remote hayfield 10 miles southwest of Charlottesville where a farmer found their daughter's bones Tuesday.

"I think people are starting to come out of the woodwork and people who are in jail are trying to broker information for privileges or time or advantages for them," Gil Harrington said.

A spokeswoman for the Virginia State Police confirmed investigators have "received numerous tips" since the remains were discovered and are assessing them. Corinne Geller said she could not comment on evidence.

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January 28, 2010

Police have collected their evidence and are done canvassing the vast 750-acre Anchorage Farm, where Morgan Harrington's remains were found Tuesday.

Police are concentrating their efforts near the back edge of the property. The closest public access to that area is not Route 29.

"It is a farmland, and it does not have public access, and I think that describes the area fairly well," Lt. Joe Rader of the Virginia State Police said.

Neighbors said the remote location where Harrington was found is only about a quarter mile from the Waldemar Drive cul-de-sac. It's part of the wealthy Blandemar subdivision.

They also say it's a tough area to navigate, as it contains a creek, hills, woodlands and fences.

Neighbors said they feel strongly that this was the most likely access that a killer would have taken because Anchorage Farm Drive goes right by David Bass' home, so it wouldn't make sense to go that route.

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January 27, 2010

Law enforcement has confirmed Wednesday that the body found Tuesday morning is that of Morgan Harrington. Virginia State Police received confirmation Wednesday from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Richmond, based on dental records provided by the Harrington family.

Morgan's parents, Dan and Gil Harrington, addressed the media in a press conference Wednesday afternoon. The family confirmed that the remains are Morgan, but said the cause of death has not been released.

"Our sorrow is etched in our faces," Gil Harrington said. "Our pain has been carved in our hearts. This has been an unimaginable, horrific journey, but since yesterday, for the first time in 101 days, I have faint tendrils of hope.

"For the first time in 101 days, I am not thinking 'what is he doing to my daughter.' I am happy that she was not alive long, enduring unspeakable things," Gil Harrington said.

"This is not what we had hoped would be the end for Morgan. At least we now have some peace, and we have some closure today," Dan Harrington added.

Gil said the Harringtons will do their best to move on as a family of three - Dan, Gil, and Morgan's brother Alex - and they still have a lot of love. They remain committed to their daughter's case.

"This [crime scene] is not a random place that someone came upon accidentally," Dan Harrington said. "This is known to someone here. It's a local person."

The Harringtons thanked local law enforcement and the University of Virginia community for helping them find Morgan. They also emphasized the continued need for tips to aid in the investigation.

In the meantime, the family knows they want to honor Morgan and the work she did throughout her life.

"We need to go forward with Morgan so that we do not let her name and her person and the wonderful person that she was and the work that she did with the Mental Health Association and her life as a young person be forgotten," Dan Harrington said.

Virginia State Police said the investigation will continue into the cause and time of death. VSP, Albemarle County Police, University of Virginia Police and Charlottesville Police are spending the day at the farm Wednesday, canvassing the area for any additional evidence.

Metallica issued a statement on its Web site Wednesday, saying the band is "profoundly saddened by the news of the discovery."

The Morgan Harrington Tipline phone number is: 434-352-3467

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Police said in a press conference Tuesday evening that they are "fairly confident" the remains found are of missing 20-year-old Virginia Tech student, Morgan Dana Harrington. However, they will not confirm those findings until an autopsy is conducted.

The Harrington family did not attend Tuesday evening's press conference.

State police said they can't release any evidence that brought them to the conclusion that the remains are most likely that of Morgan Harrington. However, State Police Lieutenant Joe Rader did say that investigators discovered information at the scene that gives them "somewhat confident" information that the remains are of Morgan Harrington.

Lt. Rader said the Anchorage Farm area was not searched because the area is on private property and is not readily accessible to the public.

Police say the remains are en route to the state medical examiner's office in Richmond for an autopsy. State police say they will confirm the identification of the body once the results of the autopsy are available.

"We are treating this as a homicide investigation," said Lt. Rader.

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Virginia State Police and Albemarle County Police are currently on the scene of the discovery of skeletal remains at Anchorage Farm in southern Albemarle County. State police were notified at 9:59 a.m. Tuesday morning by an Albemarle County resident of the discovery. Remains and scene are being evaluated by forensic technicians.

CBS19 reporter Jessica Jaglois has received word that Dan and Gil Harrington, parents of missing 20-year-old Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington, were en route to Charlottesville around 1:00pm Tuesday afternoon.

Gil Harrington, Morgan's mother, told Jaglois by phone that the remains found "probably are Morgan's."

"We don't think it's been proved definitively yet, but it's most likely," she said. "So, we want to go and be on hand and see if that determination can be made. Or if we can help in making that determination."

Gil Harrington said she wanted to thank people for all their prayers and the efforts to find Morgan.

"I was hoping we would find her alive, but at least we won't always be wondering for a lifetime," she said.

"We're still kind of processing, trying to, although all this time, we've been trying to prepare ourselves for this endpoint," Harrington said. "But thinking you're doing it and having done it are different. So we're trying to figure to how to be a tripod now instead of a four-legged strong table that we have been [as a family]. We haven't done it. We'll figure it out, but we haven't done it yet."

CBS19's Bianca Spinosa spoke to David Bass, the owner of the property. He said he found the remains when he was checking fences that keep cows from roaming. The fences were on the outer end of the property, about 1.5 miles from his own. Initially, Bass said, he thought the remains were a deer but called police when he realized they were human.

Bass said the remains were at a remote part of the property that can only be accessed by tractor. He said he usually keeps the gates to his farm open, which makes it susceptible to trespassers, usually hunters.

Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney Denise Lunsford and Lt. Joe Rader of the Virginia State Police both visited the crime scene Tuesday. Lt. Rader is the lead investigator in the Morgan Harrington disappearance case.

Virginia State Police have scheduled a press conference for 5:00pm Tuesday afternoon. CBS19 will have live coverage of the press conference on air and on Newsplex.com.

We will update the story as additional information is made available.


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