CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (WWBT) - Using dental records, investigators confirmed today what her family already suspected, the remains found yesterday belong to missing Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington who disappeared in October. A farmer discovered the skeletal remains while checking fences on his 700 acre property in southern Albemarle County. For police, this shifts the investigation from a missing person case to a homicide.
After more than 100 days of not knowing, Gil, Dan, and Alex Harrington returned to the Copley Road Bridge in Charlottesville where their Morgan was last seen alive. It is now a memorial and a place the Harringtons now find closure.
"For the first time in 101 days I am not thinking every minute 'what is he doing to my daughter now. What is he doing to her; what is she having to endure'," said Gil Harrington.
For the first time the family can focus on remembering their daughter and the daunting task of finding out more about the last hours of her life.
"Even though Morgan has been found and she has been murdered. We now need to find the person who did this and we will not stop until that person is brought to justice," said Dan Harrington.
Investigators and forensics teams mobilized at the state police headquarters around 9:30 a.m. this morning.
They were joined by dozens of members of the regional tactical field force team from Appomattox. Members arrived at the 750-acre crime scene by caravan. They are searching the property in grids, walking shoulder to shoulder, looking for evidence that will truly bring the Harringtons some peace.
The family of three tied a black ribbon to the bridge and struggled to find the words to describe their loss.
"Morgan... Morgan was a wonderful person," said Dan.
"Morgan was well loved every single day of her life except the last one and not everyone on this earth can say that," said Gil.
The Harrington's hope to hold a funeral next week and they want to eventually put a permanent tribute on the Copley Road Bridge to their daughter as a safety reminder for the community. We're told it could be several days before a cause of death is determined.
At the tribute, a new message from her family. The Harringtons thanked Charlottesville for helping them find Morgan.
STATEMENT BY DR. DAN HARRINGTON
"Morgan's mother, Gil, and I are overwhelmingly saddened by yesterday's discovery, but we are also relieved because our questions can now be answered and we can give our daughter a proper burial. We know that because of the good life Morgan led and the love she created for everyone around her, she is now in a safer, better place. We appreciate everyone's respect for our privacy at this difficult time and we thank everyone who has helped us through this tragedy and helped us find Morgan."