Missing teen: Search continues for Alexis Tiara Murphy
Relatives of missing Nelson County teenager Alexis Tiara Murphy pleaded for the public's assistance at an afternoon press conference on August 7, four days after the 17-year-old vanished and just one day after her white Nissan Maxima was found in the Carmike movie theater parking lot, less than a mile from the store where she worked.
"We really have got to get her home," said Alexis' aunt, Angela Taylor, urging anyone with information to contact law enforcement. "Our family is struggling with this," said Taylor, speaking through tears
In a phone interview earlier in the day, Taylor described the hours leading up to Alexis' disappearance on Saturday, August 3, as the young woman worked a shift at the new second-hand store, Kid to Kid, on U.S. 29 North, then returned home to the small Nelson town of Shipman, where she lives with her mother, grandmother and two brothers. According to Taylor, Alexis told her brothers she was traveling to Lynchburg to purchase hair extensions prior to a scheduled Wednesday hair appointment. She tweeted "burg bound!" on August 3, along with more than 40 other brief messages to her more than 11,000 followers.
She left home around 7pm and never returned.
"When she didn't come home that night, they knew something was up," says Taylor, who says her niece had a midnight curfew and that she was in constant phone contact with her mother and family.
"She would always call to let us know she was on her way home," says Taylor. "If she was going to be late for her curfew, she'd call."
Calls to Murphy's phone went straight to voice mail on Saturday night and Sunday morning.
"That's so unlike her too," says Taylor. "Her phone is like her sixth finger— attached to her at all times."
Taylor describes Murphy as a "very popular" volleyball player and rising senior at Nelson County High School. She frequently spends time with close friends, says her aunt, but doesn't have a boyfriend.
Her disappearance is being investigated by multiple agencies including the FBI, Virginia State Police and Nelson County Sheriff's Office. On Sunday, police conducted a search of the 29 corridor around Lovingston and, after the discovery of her vehicle on Tuesday, August 6, investigators searched the neighborhoods and shopping center around the Carmike Theater.
"We know that they're doing everything in their power to bring her home safely," says Taylor. "That's comforting."
Both Nelson Sheriff David Brooks and FBI Special Agent Jeffrey Mazanec, head of the FBI's Richmond division, urged the public to call in tips that could be critical to the investigation.
"We need the public's help," said Mazanec. "Someone has had to see Alexis after her disappearance on Saturday."
Alexis Tiara Murphy, who is 5'7" and 156 pounds, according to a police flyer, was last seen wearing a pink blouse, floral print spandex pants and brown boots. She was carrying a dark and light-colored grey purse. Her right nostril and left side of her upper lip are pierced.
Anyone with information should contact the Nelson County Sheriff's office at 434-263-7050.