Gone but not forgotten.
Morgan Harrington, a 20-year-old Virginia Tech student, disappeared in October 2009. Her remains were found a few months later.
Her death remains a mystery, but it’s back in the news this week because of the arrest of Jesse Matthew — the only known suspect in the disappearance of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham.
Virginia State Police have not said how the two cases are connected, except to say there is a “new forensic link.”
They are pursing that link with the hope of being able to provide, finally, some sort of closure for the Harrington family — whatever that may look like.
“There’s a suspect, and possibility of a link to Morgan’s murder, and I am so pleased that that has happened, but it doesn’t change a lot for us, in some ways,” Harrington’s mother, Gil Harrington, told CNN affiliate WSLS on Monday.
“You know, our bedroom is still empty upstairs. We’re still not going to have the grandchildren, the wedding, those things,” she said.
Harrington disappeared on October 17, 2009, after attending a Metallica concert at the University of Virginia’s John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, Virginia.
She had been so excited about the concert, according to her mother, that she posted the tickets on the refrigerator about six months ahead of time. She tried on three outfits before settling on what to wear, a crystal necklace and a black T-shirt with the word “Pantera” spelled out in tan letters.
Police say she left her friends to use the restroom during the concert. When she did not return, her friends called her cell phone.
Harrington told them she was outside the arena and could not get back in because of its re-entry policy but not to worry and that she would find a ride home.
There are restrooms inside the arena and, to this day, it’s not clear why she left.
Witnesses later saw someone matching Harrington’s description walking along a nearby bridge. No further sightings were reported.
Harrington’s purse, along with her identification and cell phone, was found the following day in an overflow parking lot near the arena.
Her remains were discovered January 2010 on a nearby farm.
On a website dedicated to Harrington, the education major is described as a “true original.”
“Time is moving on so very quickly, but we are not. We are stuck in the limbo of not knowing, the purgatory of no answers, no justice. How can it be possible that 4 years! of investigation has not ferreted out your murderer (s?) We are determined to do just that, find him. Frantic actually, to find him before he kills again,” it reads.
Besides the connection to the Graham case, police have linked Harrington’s death with the kidnapping and assault of another woman in Fairfax, Virginia, in 2005.
That woman, who survived the attack, was able to provide police with enough of a description to make a sketch.
Authorities have not publicly identified the woman who gave the description but have said her case was connected to Harrington’s case through DNA.
If Matthew is linked to Harrington’s death, and Harrington’s death is linked to the kidnapping and rape of the woman in Fairfax, then is Matthew linked to the Fairfax case?
So many questions. So few answers.
But there’s at least one thing Harrington’s family knows — and for which it is grateful.
“I know where Morgan is. However this unfolds, I know where my girl is. She’s in a box in the living room,” Harrington’s mother told WSLS.
“Hannah Graham’s family do not know where their daughter is,” she said. “We need to find her. The investigation needs to find her and, most of all, her family needs to find her.”