Virginia Tech Student Morgan Harrington Was Murdered, Police Say

Cause of death for Morgan Harrington is still to be determined.

Feb. 3, 2010 — -- The death of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington, whose body was found last week in a farmer's field in Virginia, has been ruled a homicide, authorities said today.

"The criminal investigation into the death of Miss Harrington is continuing," said a statement released by the Virginia State Police. "No arrests have been made at this time."

The police announcement did not say how Harrington was killed, however.

"The cause and time of death are still to be determined by the Medical Examiner," the statement said.

Family and friends of Harrington have long been convinced that the 20-year-old was a murder victim.

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, 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.

The mystery surrounding Harrington's disappearance the night of Oct. 17 deepened last week when authorities in Virginia identified skeletal remains found in a remote field as the missing Virginia Tech junior.

"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."

The cause of death has not yet been determined, according to Corrine Geller, a spokeswoman for the Virginia State Police. No one has been named a person of interest or a suspect in Testerman's case either.

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.

Up until the day authorities received a call from an area farmer saying that he'd found remains on his property, Harrington's parents had held out hope for their daughter. The body was found about 10 miles from the concert site.

Dan Harrington wrote on his daughter's blog on Jan. 24, "3 months! Despite the length of time Morgan has been gone I remain hopeful. Part of me is waiting to be surprised. Waiting for God to pull the rabbit out of the hat and bring Morgan home."

Now Dan Harrington is speculating on who took his daughter. He told NBC's "Today Show" last week that his daughter's killer must have been from around Charlottesville.

"There is absolutely no way that a stranger to the area would know [the local roads and the farm]," said Dan Harrington. "It is someone who lives in the Charlottesville area."

Friends Believe Someone 'Bad' Got Harrington

Jill Helm, whose daughter Chelsea was one of "the nine" and who frequently had the group over to her Roanoke home, said Harrington must have bumped into an evil person.

"I think she went out to smoke and they wouldn't let her back into the concert and he got her out there," said Helm. "Someone who is as bad as all the crazy people in the world got her."

"Morgan had nothing to run from," said Helm. "Her friends and family are absolutely wonderful."

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