CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – State and local law enforcement are investigating the discovery of skeletal remains in Albemarle County in connection with the ongoing search and investigation for missing Virginia Tech student, Morgan Dana Harrington, 20, of Roanoke, Va.
At 9:53 Tuesday morning (January 26, 2010) an Albemarle County resident notified Virginia State Police of a discovery he made in one of the fields on his 700-acre farm in the southern part of the county. While operating a tractor, he came across skeletal remains in a remote section of a hayfield. There is no public access to this particular area. The hayfield was last cut in August 2009 and would have been possibly waist-high by mid October 2009.
State police immediately dispatched investigators and crime scene technicians to the scene to evaluate and process the findings. With the assistance of Albemarle County Police, Charlottesville Police, and University of Virginia Police, investigators have been on the scene all day Tuesday gathering and analyzing evidence. The scene will remain secured by Virginia State Police overnight for investigators to return Wednesday for additional investigation.
Based on evidence recovered at the scene, investigators are fairly confident at this time that the remains are those of Morgan Dana Harrington – the 20-year-old Virginia Tech student who went missing from the University of Virginia campus during a Metallica concert on the night of October 17, 2009. The remains are being transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Richmond for positive identification and autopsy.
“Not until we receive word from the medical examiner can we say we are 100-percent certain that this is Miss Harrington,” said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent, at a Tuesday evening press conference in Charlottesville. “However, based on evidence recovered with the remains, we are confident that scientific testing will confirm her identification.”
Investigators are now working to determine how the remains came to be in this particular location, cause and time of death, and identifying who was responsible for the remains being there.
State Police still ask for the public to come forward and provide any information they may have related to the case of Morgan Harrington, especially now with this new lead. With over 600 tips received to-date, state and local police thank the public for coming forward and providing details that helped establish the timeline that night of Miss Harrington’s movements after she was outside John Paul Jones Arena. Those with information and tips are encouraged to call Virginia State Police at 434-352-3467 or UVA Police at 434-924-7166 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I want to acknowledge and thank the law-enforcement agencies for their steadfast support and contributions to the search and investigation into the Morgan Harrington case,” said Colonel Flaherty. “We also want to thank Dr. and Mrs. Harrington for persevering through three months of the unimaginable.”