Feb. 4, 2010 -- Whoever killed Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington and left her body on a remote farm knew the tricky "obstacles" to get to the location, Virginia police said today.
Virginia State Police Lt. Joe Rader asked at a press conference today for people who live in the area to alert investigators to whoever was familiar with the roads and terrain there.
Rader said investigators believe the person or persons responsibile for Harrington's murder was familiar with the area on Anchorage Farm where the 20-year-old's body was found.
"People in the Anchorage Farm area, you know what goes on there, you know the history," said Rader. "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.
Anchorage Farm is in Albemarle County about 10 miles south of where Harrington was last seen at a Metallica concert. Her body was discovered by the owner of the farm on Oct. 17. Harrington's death was ruled a homicide on Wednesday, but her cause of death has not yet been determined.
Rader went on to list several points of interest about the location and the significance of the location that he said he was offering in hopes of getting a response from the community.
Among the items in Rader's list was information about the "obstacles" that a person unfamiliar with the farm would have faced trying to get to the stop where Harrington was found.
"The choice of that particular location is quite different than if the person responsible had chosen the public highway or the shoulder," said Rader. "This particular location would have been a high risk location unless you're familiar with the area."
"People living in that area, this will mean something to you," Rader said cryptically.
Family and Friends of Harrington Suspect Foul Play by Local
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 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," said Testerman. "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 Raonake 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 conert. 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.