Morgan Harrington abduction and murder

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Morgan Harrington abduction and murder

Morgan Dana Harrington of Roanoke, VA (July 24, 1989 – October 17, 2009) was a 20-year-old Virginia Tech student who disappeared from the John Paul Jones Arena on October 17, 2009 while attending a Metallica concert at University of Virginia (UVA). Her disappearance initiated one of the largest searches in Charlottesville, Virginia’s history. Harrington’s remains were discovered three months later in rural farmland, but her death remains a mystery as no suspects have been named. Police have noted a “forensic connection” between the case and another unsolved abduction and assault.

Update – Morgan Harrington abduction and murder linked to Jesse Matthew, suspect in Hannah Graham kidnapping.  Read more – Morgan Harrington murder linked to Hannah Graham suspect.


On October 17, 2009, Harrington and three friends drove to the John Paul Jones Arena for the concert. During the opening act’s performance, Harrington told friends that she was going to the restroom. When she did not return, they called her cell phone at 8:48pm and she told them that she was locked out of the arena because of its “no re-entry” policy. She added that she would find a way home and they should not worry. According to witness reports, she was last seen at around 9:30pm hitch-hiking on a nearby bridge. There are also two witnesses who claim to have seen her with three men after she had left the arena.

The following day, her purse with her identification and cell phone (with batteries removed) was discovered in one of the arena’s overflow parking areas, the RV lot at UVA’s Lannigan Athletic Field.

Her remains were discovered on January 26, 2010, about ten miles (16 km) from the arena in a remote area of a 742-acre (3.00 km2) farm and at least one and a half miles from road access. Although investigators have not released information about her death, her parents confirmed that the death had been very violent and bones were broken.

In April 2010, law enforcement confirmed that a Pantera T-shirt that was found in November 2009 outside of an apartment building about a mile and a half from the arena, was indeed the shirt she had been wearing on that evening according to forensic tests.  Police believe the murder to be related to a similar abduction and sexual assault, and that the killer may be familiar with the area where Morgan’s body was found.

Gil Harrington confirmed on May 17, 2010, that her daughter had been raped: “It has been seven months since Morgan was abducted, raped, and murdered. Still no resolution! We find some comfort in having recovered her body; knowing it is better than not knowing and trying to ‘fill in the blanks’.

The killing provoked fears, expressed by her parents in many meetings with media including national television broadcasts, that a serial killer might be living in Virginia. DNA was later tied to an attempted abduction in Fairfax City.

Crimestoppers has offered a $100,000 reward and the band, Metallica, has added an additional $50,000 reward for information leading to a conviction.

via Morgan Dana Harrington – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.


Morgan Harrington abduction
Morgan Harrington abduction

Things that don’t make sense:

Making sense of her path – timeline doesn’t seem to add up

Making sense of her purse and phone being found

The shirt being found almost a month later

Location of where body was found

The crime committed in Fairfax being so bold (how was this person not caught before??)


Here’s a birds eye view of where the first rape was committed


From 1993 to 2008, among homicides reported to the FBI for which the victim-offender relationship was known, between 21% and 27% of homicides were committed by strangers and between 73% and 79% were committed by offenders known to the victims.


  • About half of violent victimizations committed by strangers occurred while the victims were away from home traveling, shopping or doing leisure activities.



Couple things I suspect:

It mentions that she was drinking and had given up smoking..

Possible reason to make sense of behavior, maybe she went back to smoking habit as I had and many others after drinking etc.



Saturday – meets up with friends at James Madison Univesity

Concert Saturday

Sunday  morning pruse found

Monday – family holds press conference at 3 pm



Driving from bridge to point of 64North – 7 minutes


Drive from bridge to location – 16minutes

Drive going the 64 route – 22 minutes



Bones were shattered

Only skeleton of body found so no DNA would have been from the killer at this location


Semi important:

Rent in the complex at the Rock Garden complex $1568/month


This area of where the crime was committed the population percent of blacks is just 7.4% of the 55066 people in this zip code

This crime had a black man on foot, bold and brash, fleeing after attack.

Never caught or arrested or DNA would be on file


In Fairfax area; only 26 registered sex offenders

This area has a median household income of $99,845, whereas Virginia average is $61,882

A black person would be noticeable in this area, just like the other area where Morgan’s body was found..  but why were these the locations?


The sketch of the perp might not be totally accurate if the last Charlottesville’s serial rapist sketch is any indication.  The sketch was praised as being 85 out of 100, with the sketch artist boasting that anything over an 80 is basically

Police Composite Sketch

After DNA proved this was actually what he looked like…

You be the judge on how much weight should be put in the sketch of the suspect in Morgan’s death…

Sketch composites

My fear is that the reason this person hasn’t been arrested or found is that the sketch is off so much that probably nobody recognizes him.

I was thinking at first that he might have been university students; but unlikely.  This person had to be very dumb to have left a shirt with his DNA on it.



Were finger prints found on Morgan’s phone, or purse?

Reports of any vehicles seen after Morgan attempted hitchhiking?  This would be a likely thing people would remember.. For instance, if I see a woman hitchhiking I remember that because its dangerous and I would make note in my mind it was out of the ordinary.. likewise if I saw that and then a block up ahead on the same road I saw a car on the side, I would make note of that also, think it was some perv or lonely guy picking her up..


Why is there not anyone noticing her hitchhiking after this?


Probably most likely this was a motorcycle pick up..

Except for issue with being seen without a helmet on the road, or the driver is not wearing one and the passenger is offered it..

But then wouldn’t someone still have seen her boarding a motorcycle even if it was fast?


This could explain the shattered bones; maybe she jumped off the motorcycle or fell off it.


Interesting facts on the 2005 attack


Read article that there was no clues found on her cell phone or purse, which goes along with the possibility that she had lost her phone and purse prior.


I have strong suspicion that she accidentally set her phone down or dropped it after sitting down somewhere; then wondered away.

Probably was a little out of it, disoriented as it was darker.. without her phone, in a city without a car, and without a cell phone usually means that even if you do get a phone, odds are you won’t remember friends number (I know 0 of my friends cell phone numbers by heart, and only my mother’s and one of my three brother’s cell numbers by memory..)

So then this could cause a panic or at least be a big worry for her..

She told her friends she would be fine and get a ride with friends..  Maybe she didn’t want to be embarrassed by still being hanging around there so she decided to hitchhike back to the city where the group of friends met up at James Madison University…

I mean what options does she have at this point if she lost her phone and purse and had no numbers memorized..  She could either:

  • wait outside the arena, despite telling all her friends that she would get a ride with friends and which possibly she would have considered an embarrassing option.. And even if she does do this, if she happens to miss them, then it is real late at night, and would make it impossible to get back to the car when her friends get to it to get back home..
  • She could ask to borrow a phone and call her parents, which I read some articles about witnesses saying something about this.. But she might have been drinking a little and probably didn’t see a lot that her dad could do that wouldn’t be a hassle for her and them i.e. calling a taxi, waiting, etc.
  • Probably just thought that of the limited options, she’d probably hitchhike to an friends house, or at least get a ride or two back to a area closer JMU..
  • Also keep in mind, that she is around the area for a period of time, and most likely on her phone trying to do what she said to her friends; get a ride with friends she knew in the area… The fact that she was hitchhiking later seems to indicate that that didn’t work out, either because the people she knew there (possibly when her brother was a student there) were either busy, not picking up, she didn’t have their phone numbers, or she wasn’t able to get a ride to their house if that was an option..


Think that its possible that people noticed that she was hitchhiking around the bridge; but after that, she might have just been another face in the crowd, just another college aged girl walking around campus, just like the bar crowd or anyone else.  Nothing done to be noticeable.

Around October 20th it was reported that she was wearing a Pantera shirt

April 16 Police confirm Pantera shirt was Harringtons


Shirt was placed their deliberately, but why?

Pantera shirt:

Placed there after the fact, November 18

Possible scenarios

More than one perp

Perp went to UVA

Perp travelled for purpose of rape

Perp is type that would want to taunt, hence the shirt found

Perp worked in the area where body was found, random spot

Police also confirmed that Morgan Harrington’s purse and cell phone were found in the parking lot between JPJ and the athletic fields. They say there appeared to be no signs of a struggle, however. Police also say the battery was taken out of the cell phone, but add it could have fallen out.

Rader was asked if Harrington was drunk or stoned when she left the arena. He didn’t answer directly, but did say she was able to move about the facility on her own power.

University of Virginia Police, Virginia State Police, and members of the FBI are actively searching for Morgan Harrington Wednesday around Davenport Field, where the UVa. baseball team plays its home games.

Wednesday morning, UVa. and State Police were seen searching the woods around Davenport Field and the track near Klockner Stadium. The UVa. track, Klockner Stadium, and Davenport Field are all part of a sports complex that is only one block away from the John Paul Jones Arena, where Morgan was last seen.

Morgan’s parents, Dan and Gil Harrington, told reporters she was last seen going to the bathroom inside JPJ around 8:40pm Saturday night. They say Morgan then went outside before Metallica took the stage; security would not let her back inside. Gil Harrington told CNN’s Nancy Grace that Morgan’s purse was found across the street in the University Hall parking lot, not far from Klockner Stadium.

Avid heavy metal fan and CBS19 Chief Meteorologist Travis Koshko attended the Metallica concert Saturday night, and he says it was the safest metal concert he’s seen.

“The thing that surprised me the most of all about this concert was how calm it was and how safe and in control the security was in the venue. There were policemen inside and outside. Yes, there were a few mosh pits, but those were suppressed,” he said.


Authorities say that around 8:30 p.m., Morgan left the concert to have a cigarette outside the venue, but left her ticket inside.

This is what I thought on the cigarette

Is it possible that this was a coincidence that the sexual assault suspect from Fairfax touched the planted shirt at the college and might have nothing to do with it and actually be a different killer out there

He says that Morgan left her car and its keys in Harrisonburg, where she and her roommate from Blacksburg, Amy Melvin, met up with a friend who drove so they could all arrive together.

Where was her phone found?

Harrington’s purse, with her identification and cell phone inside, was found the following day in an overflow parking lot near the arena, police said. A friend had driven Harrington’s car to the concert, she said, and was still in possession of the car keys when they got separated.

The following day, her purse with her identification and cell phone (with batteries removed) was discovered in one of the arena’s overflow parking areas, the RV lot at UVA’s Lannigan Athletic Field


Items missing:

  • Necklace
  • Jewelry
  • Digital camera

How do they know she was raped as mentioned in the Wikipedia article


Scenario to explain a few things that don’t make sense

  • Could have lost her phone and purse while being out of it
    • No fingerprint on items one would assume
  • After losing her phone and purse, she had no money, and no way to contact anyone
    • Probably felt angry, lost, etc.
  • Might have tried to hitchhike for help or flag someone down to use their phone

Any reports of her asking to borrow phone?


Location where purse found


At 8:48 p.m., Harrington telephoned friends inside the arena and said she would find a ride home. Between 9:00 to 9:10 p.m., a video image captured the young woman walking through the University Hall parking lot alone. Witnesses later observed Harrington inside the Lannigan track and field parking lot.

A witness told police that a woman matching Harrington’s description was standing on the Copeley Road Bridge attempting to hitch a ride.  Standing over a set of railroad tracks, the bridge runs between University Hall and Ivy Road, a few blocks north of U.S. Highway 29. At 9:30 p.m., she was last observed standing on Copeley Road near the intersection of Ivy Road, about a block west of the bridge.



Did witnesses notice if Harrington had her purse when she was hitchhiking


Morgan Harrington was seen hitchhiking for a ride on the Copeley Road Bridge on the night of her disappearance, according to a police brief released Nov. 13.

“After the 9:30 (p.m.) timeframe, we can’t seem to establish any other sightings of her,” said Corinne Geller, spokeswoman for the Virginia State Police.

It was also released in the brief that she was wearing a Swarovski Crystal necklace on that night.

Harrington might have received a ride or approached someone to borrow a cell phone, Geller said.

“She was wearing it that night,” Geller said. “She dropped her purse and her cell phone, so maybe she might have dropped her necklace also.”

Police reviewed individual witness claims to arrive at the new conclusions. Investigators are asking anybody that was on or near the Copeley Road Bridge and may have seen a woman hitchhiking to contact them at 434-352-3467.

The police are also looking for people who might have let Harrington use their cell phone that night.

“These are all things relevant to developing any more information on the case and bring her home safely,” Geller said.

The existing police timeline of Harrington’s whereabouts includes leaving the arena around 8:30 p.m. and being sighted on the Copely Road Bridge near Ivy Road around 9:30 p.m.

Harrington disappeared Oct. 17 during a Metallica concert in the John Paul Jones Arena on the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville, Va.

A reward of $150,041 has been established for information that leads to Harrington’s recovery.



Was blood found on Pantera shirt?

Was it cleaned at all?

Was DNA on shirt in small quantity, indicating a mistaken belief that it wouldn’t be incriminating?

Was a lot of DNA on shirt?  If so, could mean that the killer is very sloppy, unintelligent


What are the odds that this was more than 1 person?

Odds that he was on a motorcycle?

Odds that he knew that area?


Abducted in a public location, risky in my opinion

Things to do today:
6131 murders in 2011

Odds that a black person murders a white person
36.8% of all murdered females are committed by blacks
59.3% of all females murder killed by whites

40.49% of all murders were female

14.1% of whites murdered are killed by blacks
7.16% of all blacks murdered are killed by whites
of the 1743 females murdered;

1 violent crime committed in Charlottesville per every 240 people
1 murder in Charlottesville per 43994 people
1 rape commited per every 1629 people
-40 from count..

Crimes by strangers were more often committed by two or more offenders than were crimes by nonstrangers.

In 2000 56.6% of serial killers were black

„ From 2005 to 2008, about 43% of homicides known to have
been committed by a stranger occurred during a robbery or

4.7 violent crimes committed b
Young adults ages 18 to 24 were most likely to
experience violent victimization by a stranger

Motives of serial killers:
34.1% thrill, lust
37.4% financial
11% multiple motives
8% anger

Serial killer IQ stats (sample size of 252)
average 94.7
Mdian 86
Lowest 54
Highest 186

Average IQ of serial killer that bludgeons

Average IQ of serial killer who raped victim

Serial killer into necrophilia
average iq of 99.7
?? really? Can that be right? I would think that would be really low..

23.9% of serial killers of serial killers had military experience

53.81% of victims of all serial killers female

68.21% white

39.4% White femaile
3.27% victims 18yo
3.51% of victims 19
2.99% of victims 20
3.23% of victims 21
3.30% of victims 22

Virginia ranks 15th victims of serial killers in 2010
Of the possible causes of death of Morgan Harrington; here are the % of those causes in serial killers
Strangled 23.34%
Stabbed 15.19%
Bludgeoned 9.01%
axed 1.48%
smothered .66%
run over .19%
the majority of serial killers who are sexually motivated erotized violence during development. For them, violence and sexual gratification are inexplicably intertwined
in their psyche.

A reward of $150,041 is still available for anyone with information that leads to a resolution of the Harrington crime.–developing–-

Research has demonstrated that in those offenders who are psychopathic, scores vary, ranging from a high degree of psychopathy to some measure of psychopathy. However, not all violent offenders are psychopaths and not all psychopaths are violent offenders. If violent offenders are psychopathic, they are able to assault, rape, and murder without concern for legal, moral, or social consequences. This allows them to do what they want, whenever they want.

Attendees at the Serial Murder Symposium agreed that there is no generic profile of a serial murderer. Serial killers differ in many ways, including their motivations for killing and their behavior at the crime scene.
KEYPOINT: However, attendees did identify certain traits common to some serial murderers, including sensation seeking, a lack of remorse or guilt, impulsivity, the need for control, and predatory behavior. These traits and behaviors are consistent with the psychopathic personality disorder. Attendees felt it was very important for law enforcement and other professionals in the criminal justice system to understand psychopathy and its relationship to serial murder.

Psychopathy is a personality disorder manifested in people who use a mixture of charm, manipulation, intimidation, and occasionally violence to control others, in order to satisfy their own selfish needs.
If violent offenders are psychopathic, they are able to assault, rape, and murder without concern for legal, moral, or social consequences. This allows them to do what they want, whenever they want.
Psychopaths who commit serial murder do not value human life and are extremely callous in their interactions with their victims. This is particularly evident in sexually motivated serial killers who repeatedly target, stalk, assault, and kill without a sense of remorse.

Understanding psychopathy becomes particularly critical to law enforcement during a serial murder investigation and upon the arrest of a psychopathic serial killer. The crime scene behavior of psychopaths is likely to be distinct from other offenders. This distinct behavior can assist law enforcement in linking serial cases.

Psychopaths are not sensitive to altruistic interview themes, such as sympathy for their victims or remorse/guilt over their crimes. They do possess certain personality traits that can be exploited, particularly their inherent narcissism, selfishness, and vanity. Specific themes in past successful interviews of psychopathic serial killers focused on praising their intelligence, cleverness, and skill in evading capture.

KEY! Even if a motive can be identified, it may not be helpful in identifying a serial murderer.

Regardless of the motive, serial murderers commit their crimes because they want to. The exception to this would be those few killers suffering from a severe mental illness.
To assist law enforcement in narrowing the pool of suspects, attendees at the Symposium suggested that broad, non-inclusive categories of motivations be utilized as guidelines for investigation. The following categories listed below represent general categories and are not intended to be a complete measure of serial offenders or their motivation:

• Anger is a motivation in which an offender displays rage or hostility towards a certain subgroup of the population or with society as a whole.
• Financial gain is a motivation in which the offender benefits monetarily from killing. Examples of these types of crimes are “black widow” killings, robbery homicides, or multiple killings involving insurance or welfare fraud.

• Ideology is a motivation to commit murders in order to further the goals and ideas of a specific individual or group. Examples of these include terrorist groups or an individual(s) who attacks a specific racial, gender, or ethnic group.

• Power/thrill is a motivation in which the offender feels empowered and/or excited when he kills his victims.

• Psychosis is a situation in which the offender is suffering from a severe mental illness and is killing because of that illness. This may include auditory and/or visual hallucinations and paranoid, grandiose, or bizarre delusions.

• Sexually-based is a motivation driven by the sexual needs/desires of the offender. There may or may not be overt sexual contact reflected in the crime scene.
Demographics in Charlottesville
19.4% black
52.3% female

just 4.7% black

49.2% male

Median income of males in area $50348

Area near where first rape commited in fairfax;
Near main highways, one being 29
Near an NRA range, which I thought was worth noting
American international university right over there; where it mentions English as a second language… Maybe an international student?
Comfort Inn near by; could have seen girl walking from window, would mean that the suspect would have been someone
University near Fairfax Virginia International university

In 2010
94.4% of serial killers were men

A higher proportion of violent victimization by
strangers occurred in public places than in private

In 2005-10, about half of violent victimizations by
strangers occurred while the victims were away from
home traveling, shopping or doing leisure activities

attack that took place on the night of September 24, 2005; which was a Saturday

Gladys Pena, a grandmother who has lived in Oxford Row for over a decade.
Pena recalls all too well the attack that took place on the night of September 24, 2005. After returning on foot to the complex from the Giant grocery store just a quarter of a mile up Jermantown Road, a 26-year-old woman was brutally raped.

July 1, day when police announced the connection between the two according to

ON same day in fairfax news as the rape there; sentence for child porn and blackmail of GMU universityleader

Case similar in Charlottesville of bold rapist

Multiple offenders were more likely to be involved
in violent victimizations by strangers than in
victimizations by offenders known to the victims
In this case:
Was there anything going on the night of the first rape?
Why was that person out of place there

homicides where the relationship between victim and perp is known is 16.7% strangers killing strangers

Just 8 of the stranger homicides involved circumstance of rape

Case that seems similar to me to kidnapping and murder by multiple people. Guy from Virginia, murdered in California

Fairfax rapist was called the Oxford Row rapist – near the Oxford Row Condominiums

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