Police Confirm Body Found in Hayfield Is Morgan Harrington
The remains of a blonde woman, found on Jan. 26 in a hayfield 10 miles south of Charlottesville, Va., have now been positively identified as those of missing Metallica fan Morgan Harrington, bringing closure to the 20-year-old Virginia Tech student's parents, Dan and Gil Harrington, little more than three months after their daughter disappeared from a Metallica concert. Officials used dental records to identify the body.
Police confirmed for the media during a press conference Tuesday evening that they were "fairly confident" the body was Morgan's, because it belonged to someone with blonde hair and because of clothing and other items which were found at the scene. The positive identification followed an autopsy performed on the remains last night. A cause of death has not yet been released.
In a prepared statement, the Harringtons expressed sorrow over the tragic ending to their harrowing ordeal, and said they were "overwhelmingly saddened by yesterday's discovery, but we are also relieved because our questions can now be answered and we can give our daughter a proper burial. We know that because of the good life Morgan led and the love she created for everyone around her, she is now in a safer, better place. We appreciate everyone's respect for our privacy at this difficult time and we thank everyone who has helped us through this tragedy and helped us find Morgan."
Now, the course of the investigation will switch gears and focus on finding the person responsible for Morgan's murder. According to Lt. Joe Rader, police have "always treated [the case] as a homicide, and will proceed as if this still is a homicide, and most likely is a homicide." He says detectives are intent on keeping details of the findings confidential, "because we have a perpetrator or perpetrators at large that we certainly intend to catch and prosecute."
Morgan's body was found in a hayfield not accessible to vehicular traffic. Police would not comment on whether they found shoe prints at the scene, but did say that the hayfield would have been waist high at the time of Harrington's disappearance. Her remains were discovered on the Anchorage Farm by its owner, David Bass. He says he was feeding his cattle at the time and saw the remains from his tractor, mistaking them, at first, for a deer carcass. "I looked down and saw what looked like a human skull, and my first thought was that it was Morgan Harrington," Bass told reporters.