DNA Links Second Abduction-Rape to Morgan Harrington

Murdered student's family hope earlier case will bring a lead to her killer.

January 29, 2010, 3:32 PM

Nov. 7, 2010 — -- A DNA link has been found between the abduction and murder of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington a year ago and the kidnapping and rape of a Fairfax, Va., woman in 2005.

Harrington's family and friends traveled from their home in Roanoke, Va. to Fairfax on Saturday, hoping to keep the unsolved case in the public eye.

"It's too late for us. Our daughter is dead. But it's not too late for the next girl, and that's why I can't give up," Harrington's mother Gil Harrington told ABC affiliate WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C.

"It's easy for a community to grow complacent and forget that there is still violence and that a predator still walks the streets," Gil Harrington said.

They passed out leaflets with a composite sketch of the man suspected of abducting and raping a 25-year old Fairfax County woman in 2005.

"We want justice for our daughter, but we want the community to be safe," Morgan Harrington's father Dan Harrington said.

The 20-year-old woman was last seen at a Metallica concert in Charlottesville, Va., on Oct. 17, 2009. Her body was found on a Virginia farm in January.

"It's scary, I have a 16-year-old daughter," Caravan volunteer Amanda St. Clair told WJLA-TV.

"The DNA collected from that young lady is connected forensically to Morgan's murder. There's no question about it," St. Clair said.

Police have said that the suspect may have changed his appearance in five years, but Harrington's family and friends still hope someone might remember him or make a connection.

"The people he possibly worked for. This guy has to be eating somewhere. He's got to be sleeping somewhere. Somebody knows him," Caravan volunteer Kenny Jarels said.

Harrington's body was discovered in January, on a remote farm in Albermarle County, about 10 miles from where Harrington was last seen at a Metallica concert.

Police said there were tricky "obstacles" to get to the location on Anchorage Farm where the body was found, so they asked people who live in the area to alert investigators to whoever was familiar with the roads and terrain there.

"People in the Anchorage Farm area, you know what goes on there, you know the history," Virginia State Police Lt. Joe Rader said. "You know who comes in and out of the vicinity and you might not realize it but you probably have some information for us that you don't even think is important."

"We encourage you, pick up the phone and call us," said Rader, also offering a special phone line, 434-709-1685, that has been set up for tips.

Family and friends of Harrington have long been convinced that she was a victim of a murderer.

Jenna Testerman, one of Harrington's best friends, said in February that she knows Harrington would not have succumbed to a killer without putting up a fight.

"I really don't know what happened to her," Testerman told ABCNews.com, just days after the search for Harrington came to a grim ending with the discovery of her body. "She wasn't someone who would just wander off."

"But what I do know is that Morgan is a fighter and she would have fought to the death," said Testerman.

"We were all hoping that they were going to find her safe and while we knew it would take a lot of work to get Morgan back to normal, we just wanted her to be alive," Testerman said. "We just wanted her to give us one of her big hugs that she's known for."

Testerman said she is particularly feeling the loss. She and Harrington were part of a close-knit group of girlfriends who called themselves "The Nine." Some of the girls even got the number nine tattooed on their bodies as a symbol of their friendship when they all went off to college. Now they are eight.

"We just hope that she didn't have to go through any pain and that her killer showed her mercy and that she's up above in heaven looking down on us," said Testerman.

In a chilling blog entry on Jan. 31 on a Web site dedicated to Harrington, the girl's father, Dan Harrington, wrote about retrieving his dead daughter's body after months of hoping she'd be found alive.

"How could someone have erased so much of what Morgan was and reduced her to a jumbled heap of bones?" wrote Dan Harrington. "Who would ever have thought it would be mine to see every image of Morgan's life -- from her first faint shadows on fetal ultrasound to the gaping orbital hollows in her skull? An abomination to witness this ending."

What Happened to Morgan Harrington After the Metallica Concert?

Few details have emerged about the night she went missing. Harrington had gone to a Metallica concert at the John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville when she got separated from her friends, who believe she stepped outside for a smoke.

Harrington, who was wearing a black mini skirt, black tights and black boots as well as a black T-shirt with "Pantera" written on the front in tan letters, called her friends on a cell phone to say she was not allowed back inside.

Sarah Snead, who had accompanied Harrington and another friend to the concert, told WSLS in Roanoke that she had been the one to receive the phone call telling them that she was stuck outside the arena.

"[She said] don't worry, I'll find a way home," said Snead.

Surveillance cameras at the concert caught Harrington getting turned away from several entrances as she tried to return to the concert. Later, witnesses told police they saw someone matching her description in a nearby grassy parking lot, and then walking on an adjacent road.

The morning after the concert, Harrington's purse and cell phone were found in that grassy field and later, her parents Dan and Gil Harrington, called police to report her missing.

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