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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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Gil Harrington last saw her daughter the morning of the concert. Morgan, calling on her mother for a fashion consultation, was trying on outfits. They settled on a black Pantera T-shirt, black miniskirt, black tights and knee-high black boots. Morgan made a point of making sure the boots weren't too high so she'd be able to dance, her mother said.

Morgan talked with her father, who was at work, on the phone. They made plans for the next day. He promised to help her study for a math quiz and balance her checkbook.

Morgan bounded out of the house about noon and said goodbye to her mother using the family's traditional greeting: "Two, four, one, Mama." Shorthand for: "I love you too much, forever, and one more time."

Daniel Harrington, an associate dean at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, and his wife have tucked their daughter's toothbrush and hairbrush into a plastic bag so that, if remains are found, police will have DNA. They gave officers a shirt that Morgan had considered wearing to the concert, but then discarded, so that a tracking dog can learn her scent.

Morgan's brother, Alex, 22, asked his mother how to handle the pain.

The most mundane moments trigger overwhelming sadness. Her mother spots the Doritos, one of her daughter's favorite snacks, in the kitchen cabinet. A family friend dressed their dog, a silky terrier named Kirby, as a lion for Halloween. Gil Harrington's first thought was to snap a photo to e-mail to her daughter, who adored Kirby and would have gotten a kick out of the get-up.

"Our best scenario is, we are hoping our daughter is being held somewhere against her will," she said.

One recent morning, the Harringtons broke down as they opened Daniel's sock drawer and flipped through the cards. They paused at one that Morgan gave them last Christmas.

"I feel like we talk so much about so many things," their daughter wrote. She thanked them for listening when she had a problem and for paying her rent so she could concentrate on school. "Just this year you guys helped me spread my wings and enter my adult life. Thank you for all you do for me."

The Harringtons are trying to spread the word about their daughter in newspapers and on TV. Appealing for help is all they can do. They are convinced that someone can give police the clue they need.

"Morgan is somewhere," her father said. "We just want our daughter back."

Virginia State Police ask that anyone with information about Morgan Harrington call the tip line at 434-352-3467 or e-mail bci-appomattox@vsp.virginia.gov.


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