Charlottesville, VA– Sunday October 17 marks the one-year anniversary of the worst day of Dan and Gil Harrington’s lives. Although they were not yet aware of the horror that had befallen their Roanoke, VA family, the next morning their daughter’s purse was found on the grounds of the University of Virginia Lanigan Field. Morgan Dana Harrington had vanished.
While attending a Metallica concert with friends Sarah Snead, Amelia Melvin and Dan Cassagne with tickets purchased 6 months earlier by Morgan’s Dad, Morgan, for reasons unknown, was outside John Paul Jones arena at approximately 8:45PM.
Morgan attempted to re-enter the arena but could not locate her ticket and was denied access to return to the venue. Shortly thereafter, Sarah called Morgan at 8:48PM looking for her and was told she could not get back in and would be attempting to locate a ride, according to Snead.
Various witness accounts and in some cases corroborating statements from Virginia State Police (VSP), place Morgan in different areas of the adjacent parking lots of JPJ over the following 45 minutes, moving toward the far perimeter of UVA property.
According to the VSP, there is a witness statement that a person matching Morgan’s description was seen hitchhiking alone on the Copeley bridge at approximately 9:30PM.
After several private law enforcement searches and two volunteer based efforts organized by the Harrington’s failed to locate her, Morgan Harrington’s remains were discovered by a prominent Charlottesville land owner on his remote 700 acre farm in Albemarle County, 8 miles South of JPJ arena, on January 26th, 2010. Morgan’s death has been classified as a homicide, however her cause of death has not been released.
Until July, the case seemed to be at a virtual standstill from an investigative perspective, in fact the only arrest to date is that of a man who provided a false lead to VSP, and was prosecuted for it.
On July 1st, as a direct result of an article linking Morgan’s case to an unsolved sexual assault case in 2005 in Fairfax, VA published by blinkoncrime.com, a sketch of a man forensically linked to both the Fairfax case and that of Morgan Harrington was released by the Virginia State Police, albeit grudgingly, at first.
Behind the scenes, Dan and Gil Harrington, who were made aware of the connection a few weeks earlier, were adamant the sketch was critical to developing leads and warning others and demanded the sketch be posted on the VSP website; it was uploaded later that afternoon at Dr. Harrington’s request.
Virginia State Police have not commented publicly on the case in several months, but in a private correspondence with a concerned blinkoncrime.com reader, Lt. Joe Rader, leading the investigation for VSP, said not only is the case not cold, but he has recently assigned additional manpower to it.
Dan and Gil Harrington, Morgan’s bereaved parents, along with Morgan’s beloved brother Alex, have spent the last year keeping Morgan’s case alive through the development of their own family blog, TV and radio appearances, and most recently, a meeting regarding safety concerns with new University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan. This Sunday, a memorial plaque to promote safety and honor Morgan Harrington is being presented to the Harrington’s on the Copely bridge.
Note From the Editor
“How would you describe the Harrington’s?” I am asked this question frequently.
I always respond the same way. “I would not”.
The grace and poise these parents have shown in the face of the worst conceivable tragedy to befall a parent is not something I could wordsmith or articulate.
If the question comes from someone I feel may help their cause, I offer to make the introduction, but I would never presume to speak for them.
The Harrington’s have created a legacy in memory of Morgan that only parents of a 20-year-old blossoming artist, music loving, budding educator could.
Morgan Harrington Photo chosen by and courtesy of The Harrington Family Library
Elizabeth Morten, Madeline Tanner and Jason Mateos, contributing editors to blinkoncrime.com
Madeline Tanner, copy editor
Images By Klaasend