RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – A major break in the Morgan Harrington case tonight. Police say they can tie the abduction and murder of the Virginia Tech student to a sexual assault in Fairfax city. There's even a police sketch of a suspect.
Investigators will only say that forensic evidence ties the suspect to Morgan Harrington's abduction and murder in Charlottesville. But Harrington's parents confirmed this afternoon it was DNA found on Morgan that matches the suspect in the Fairfax case.
The night she vanished outside a Metallica concert at the John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, 20-year-old Morgan Harrington came into contact with this man: a suspect in the 2005 abduction and sexual assault of a woman in Fairfax city.
"There's a definite forensic link between Morgan Harrington and the case from Fairfax city from 2005," said Virginia State Police Spokesperson Corrine Geller.
In September of 2005, a 26-year-old walking home from the grocery store on Rock Garden Drive was grabbed from behind and carried to a park. She was physically and sexually assaulted. The man in the police sketch was never caught.
"At that time he apparently had a beard, and of course hair styles and facial hair can change over time, and people can change overtime, especially over a five year period," said Geller.
Morgan Harrington's parents have known about the link between the cases for weeks.
"I feel like it's a real positive step towards us being able to find justice for Morgan," said Dan Harrington.
Investigators say as soon as they found the match, they began going over surveillance video from the John Paul Jones Arena and nearby stores and banks.
"Still we don't have anyone fitting his description, even an altered description in any of that video. We still have no pictures of her in any of the video there at the arena," Geller said.
Morgan's parents say this new development has brought out new emotions to Dan and Gil. Their daughter's killer now has a face.
"Prior to this the murderer was an abstract person that killed our daughter. There's now a face," Dan said.
"I've been making blanket statements of being careful and now I can say be careful of this guy," said Gil.
There's a $150,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Morgan's killer. Those with information about the man featured in the "Wanted Poster" seen at the bottom of the page may contact City of Fairfax Police Detective Mike Boone at (703) 385-7959.
Anyone wishing to provide information in the Morgan Harrington case is encouraged to call the Jefferson Area Crime Stoppers at (434) 977-4000 or Virginia State Police at (434) 352-3467 or email State Police at firstname.lastname@example.org. A reward of $150,041 is still available for anyone with information that leads to a resolution of the Harrington crime.