October 17, 2012
Wednesday marks the three-year anniversary of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington's disappearance, and her parents returned to the last place she was seen in Charlottesville to keep her case fresh in the public's eye.
"As a society, we have become complacent for the loss of the lives and think these things happen elsewhere. It happens here," Morgan's father, Dan Harrington, said.
The Harringtons joined police and close friends to remember Morgan, who was last seen on the Copeley Road Bridge in Charlottesville on Oct. 17, 2009, during a Metallica concert.
"Three years ago, Morgan Harrington walked on this bridge and she was confused, hurt and she intersected with evil," Morgan's mother, Gil Harrington, said.
The body of the 20-year-old Virginia Tech student was found on a farm in southern Albemarle County in January 2010. Her parents join police in searching for the unknown suspect.
"This is a home-grown predator. Local boy. He knows this community well. He's very familiar with this community," Gil Harrington said.
Virginia State Police have released a sketch of a man linked to Harrington's disappearance by DNA from a 2005 sexual assault in Fairfax.
"We will not forget and will not let others forget that an unsolved murder remains in this community," Dan Harrington said.
Out of Morgan's death, the Harringtons are trying to create a positive legacy through Help Save the Next Girl, an initiative to make sure a similar tragedy doesn't happen again, especially on a college campus.
"It's important, the idea that you go somewhere together, you stay together, you leave together," said Laura Schneider, the president of the Virginia Tech chapter of Help Save the Next Girl. "It should be second nature, and it's not."
The Harringtons mark the anniversary of Morgan's disappearance each year by visiting the Copeley Road Bridge. They're convinced this is the final year they'll have to make the trip to Charlottesville.
"Let's make this be the last time we meet in this way," Gil Harrington told the crowd who gathered to hear the couple speak. "I'll meet you out front of the courthouse next time we have an arrest. That's what I'm looking forward to."
There is still a $150,000 reward for any information that leads to an arrest.
The Harringtons say they want to find their daughter's killer through tips, not through DNA from another homicide.