Story by Chris Graham
The Virginia State Police is saying that human remains found on a farm in southern Albemarle County appear to be those of Morgan Harrington, 20, a Virginia Tech student who was reported missing after attending a concert at the John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville on Oct. 17.
“We’re fairly confident that the remains are those of Morgan Dana Harrington,” said Virginia State Police Superintendent Col. Steven Flaherty at a news conference in Charlottesville Tuesday afternoon.
The remains have been sent to the State Medical Examiner’s office in Richmond for identification and an autopsy, Flaherty said. “Until we receive word from the autopsy, we can’t say with 100 percent certainty that this is truly Miss Harrington. However, there were some significant items of evidence that makes us confident that that scientific procedure will confirm that ID,” Flaherty said.
Flaherty said the State Police cannot release the evidence that leads investigators to the conclusion that the remains are Harrington. The case has moved to a new phase with the apparent discovery of the body, Flaherty said.
“We’re at a very infant stage of the investigation. We have more questions than we have answers for you,” Flaherty told reporters.
The body was found this morning when the owner of the historic Anchorage Farm six miles south of Charlottesville on U.S. 29 was out on a remote area of his farm checking the stability of fences used to keep cattle in.
The area of the farm is used as a hayfield, State Police Lt. Joe Rader said. The hayfield had last been cut in August, “and at the time that Miss Harrington would have disappeared, would have been about up to your waist,” Rader said.
Authorities were otherwise mum about the details of the crime scene.
“It’s too early for us to make speculations. We have to focus on facts, physical evidence, we have to sort the tips out, we have to do our interviews and come to logical conclusions to find who’s responsible for remains of Morgan Harrington, which we believe it will be Morgan Harrington when the medical examiner has finished,” Rader said.
“We now have to work with the Commonwealth Attorney’s office, with our other partners in the investigation, and do what we know very well, and that is to bring this person to justice and take care of this situation,” Rader said.