Positive identification expected Wednesday on skeletal remains

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (WWBT) - Police have more questions than answers as they move into a new phase of the investigation to find out what happened to Morgan Harrington.

Human remains believed to be that of the Virginia Tech student were found at an Albemarle County farm Tuesday.

Investigators will return Wednesday morning to Anchorage Farm off Route 29.

Overnight a state trooper kept watch so that no one would disturb any evidence. Evidence state police will not yet talk about.

For hours, investigators scoured for clues in what police say is likely a homicide investigation in the death of Morgan Harrington.

"Whatever we discover from this time forward we must be very careful because we have a perpetrator, or perpetrators at large that we certainly intend to catch and prosecute," said state police Lt. Joe Rader.

Positive identification is expected Wednesday morning along with cause of death. Farm owner David Bass found the skeletal remains while checking his property line for storm damage. Bass said he was told to keep quiet about any clothing or jewelry that may have been discovered.

"The skull had no hair on it," said a tearful Bass.

The remains were in a hay field which police say was last cut in August.

"At the time Morgan Harrington disappeared the hay field would have been up to the waist," said Lt. Rader.

Bass said the only way to get to that spot is by foot.

"There's no other way. You'd have to go through barbed wire fences, cross rivers, and streams. It's a complete mystery to me," said Bass.

The farm had not been searched before by police.

"We had no evidence at the time that was an area of interest," said state police Superintendent, Col. Steven Flaherty.

Harrington was a junior at Virginia Tech. Counselors are at the ready. Tech President Charles Steger released a statement.

"The Tech community held out hope for Morgan's safe return.  The news from Albemarle County put an end to that hope. The most important work we can do now is to turn our efforts toward the support of Morgan's family, her friends and others struggling to cope with the terrible tragedy," said Steger.

As the investigation moves forward police ask that anyone who may have information about this case to call the state police tip line at 434-352-3467.

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