Charlottesville residents react to major break in Harrington case

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Is this the sketch that could lead to Morgan Harrington's killer? The composite is from a Fairfax City abduction and sexual assault case that's now linked to Morgan's murder.

Morgan's parents and investigators hope someone will recognize this man and bring him to justice. So do residents in Charlottesville, where Morgan first disappeared.

The breakthrough is both promising and nerve-wracking for Charlottesville residents. On one hand, they're excited for Morgan's family that police have made great strides in solving her murder. On the other, they're still worried about a killer walking their streets.

UVA student Meaghan Walsh is from Fairfax. The same community where this man is now not only wanted for a 2005 attack but also a suspect in Morgan Harrington's brutal death last fall.

"This is definitely nerve-wracking to hear that someone in my area is down here killing people too," said Walsh.

Police say the suspect physically and sexually assaulted a woman in a pool area.

"We know for sure, based on lab results and lab analysis, that in fact whatever happened in 2005 to the victim - the same person somehow or another had contact with Morgan," said Lt. Joe Rader with Virginia State Police.

Harrington's parents say the potential break brings them one step closer to getting justice.

"Our chances with this new information of an arrest and conviction have just increased astronomically," said Gil Harrington, Morgan's mother.

Morgan's parents say they've known about the Fairfax link for several weeks now but still believe Charlottesville is key in their daughter's unsolved murder. That her killer would have to know their way around the isolated Albemarle farm where Morgan's remains were found just a few miles from the Copeley Road bridge memorial.

"As it makes it more real for us having a face - it makes it real for people in Charlottesville," said Gil Harrington.

Walsh says the community will be watching.

"Based on everything that's happened to us this year, that people will definitely keep that picture in mind as best as they can," said Walsh.

A $150,000 reward is still up for grabs for an arrest and conviction in Morgan's murder. If you  have any information about the man in the sketch call state police at 434-352-3467.

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