ALBEMARLE COUNTY – The search for missing Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington ended Tuesday when skeletal remains were found in a field about 10 miles south of Charlottesville, according to Virginia State Police.
Morgan, 20, disappeared the night of Oct. 17 during a Metallica concert at the University of Virginia’s John Paul Jones Arena, about 10 miles from Anchorage Farm in Albemarle County, where the remains were discovered by owner David Bass. Bass discovered the remains while operating a tractor in a remote section of a hayfield on his 700-acre farm, police said. Part of the reason it took months to discover the remains could be that site was rarely visited and the grass in the area had not cut since August, according to police.
Bass notified police of the remains at around 10 a.m. Investigators from State, Albemarle County, Charlottesville, and UVa Police were immediately called to the scene and spent Tuesday and Wednesday investigating the scene, police said.
Investigators are trying to determine how the remains came to be in the field, Flaherty said.
During the same press conference, Chief Investigator Lt. Joe Rader of the State Police said investigators will turn their full attention to finding Morgan’s killer. However, they must proceed with caution, he said.
“Whatever we discover from this time forward, we must be careful, because we have a perpetrator or perpetrators at large that we certainly intend to catch and to prosecute,” Rader said.
The discovery of the remains has put an end to the three-month search for Morgan, which included search parties, Internet networking, and spots on national television shows such as Dr. Phil and Nancy Grace.
The discovery generated an outpouring of support from the more than 33,000 members of the “Help Find Morgan Dana Harrington” Facebook group and the Tech community.
“Amidst this overwhelming sadness, perhaps the most important work we can do is to turn our efforts toward the support of Morgan’s family, her friends, and those in our community who may well struggle to cope with this terrible tragedy,” said Tech President Charles Steger in a statement released Tuesday.
Steger recommended counseling to those affected by the loss.
Although the search for Morgan has ended, the search for her killer continues. State Police are asking anyone with information in the case to come forward. Morgan was last seen on the Copeley Road Bridge near the arena reportedly trying to hitch-hike home. She was a black mini-skirt, black knee-high boots and a Pantera T-shirt. Anyone who saw Morgan the night she disappeared is asked to call the Virginia State Police at 434-352-3467 or UVA Police at 434-924-7166 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.