Search continues for Virginia Tech student last seen Oct. 17

Morgan Harrington, 20, a Virginia Tech junior, was last seen Oct. 17 in Charlottesville.
Morgan Harrington, 20, a Virginia Tech junior, was last seen Oct. 17 in Charlottesville. (AP)
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By Maria Glod
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 6, 2009

Daniel Harrington's sock drawer is filled with cards his daughter, Morgan, has written over the years. Birthday, Valentine's Day, Christmas.

Now, he and his wife, Gil, fear there will be no more.

Morgan Harrington, 20, a Virginia Tech junior, was last seen Oct. 17 when she separated from friends at a Metallica concert in Charlottesville.

The willowy blonde ended up outside the University of Virginia's John Paul Jones Arena and couldn't get back in. She talked to one of her friends by cellphone, saying not to worry, that she'd get home on her own. But she never returned.

"It's like she just fell off the face of the Earth," Daniel Harrington said.

Morgan, an education major, is close to her parents and visits their Roanoke house often. She is a music buff whose eclectic tastes are on display in a bedroom in which Black Sabbath and Bob Marley posters hang alongside a Barry Manilow record. She spent her high school summers working with children who have witnessed domestic violence.

"Morgan was shiny," her mother said, then stopped herself. "When I hear myself use 'was' instead of 'is,' it makes me feel bad. When this started, I told myself I was not going to do that. But now I catch myself doing it."

This week, friends and volunteers handed out fliers at voting booths in the Roanoke area. And a Texas group that helps find missing children is leading volunteers in searches this weekend.

The Harringtons are offering a $100,000 reward for information to find their daughter. Metallica is offering $50,000. Police have reviewed video surveillance cameras from the area and have asked fans to check concert photos and videos for signs of Harrington, and they are sorting through hundreds of tips. So far, the search has come up empty.

Harrington was last seen about 9:30 p.m., walking alone on the Copeley Road railroad bridge near the arena. She had a scratch on her chin, witnesses told police, but officers said they think it probably was from an accidental bump or fall, not an attack. Her purse and cellphone were found the next day in a grassy lot used for overflow parking.

"From there, the trail goes cold," said Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller. "We still want people to come forward. Even the most trivial information might be the piece of the puzzle we need."

Investigators said they want to hear from anyone who saw someone matching Morgan's description get into a car or from anyone who saw a vehicle "randomly stopped" on Copeley Road.

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