Eight months: Harringtons mark anniversary with frustration, hope
On the eight-month anniversary of their daughter's disappearance during an October 17 Metallica concert in Charlottesville, and nearly five months after her decomposed remains were found on a remote corner of an Albemarle County farm, Morgan Harrington's parents, Dan and Gil Harrington, speak of their increasing frustration– not only with the lack of an arrest in the case– but with Virginia State Police and UVA administrators, whom both Harringtons criticize directly.
"They have not been on top of things when it comes to letting people know there's a murderer here," says Gil Harrington, standing on the Copeley Road bridge in front of Morgan's memorial. A brand new banner hangs there with a message reminiscent of the billboard also erected this month on High Street: "Help us solve Morgan's Homicide," the banner reads, reminding passersby of the $150,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction. A collection of "Morgan rocks," hand painted and etched stones created by those following the case around the world, now covers much of the concrete bridge wall.
Such kind gestures from strangers and from friends offer some comfort, says Gil. But true healing, both she and Dan say, can begin only after an arrest in the case.
Spokespeople for State Police and UVA had not immediately returned the Hook's call at posting time.
The Harringtons say they are aware of people who feel their regular presence in the media is somehow unseemly and that the bridge memorial is macabre–- "as if us drawing attention is a social gaffe," says Gil, who insists she will remain undeterred from continuing her crusade to keep Morgan's name in the public eye. "This place was a springboard for something hideous to happen," she says, adding that if necessary, "We'll be here for 20 years. We need an arrest."
The Harringtons mention Joran van der Sloot, who allegedly killed a Peruvian woman on the fifth anniversary of Natalie Holloway's disappearance and presumed death in Aruba, a crime that he is also widely suspected of committing.
"People don't stop," says Gil, who believes that whoever killed Morgan will kill again.
The Harringtons say they're also "hungry for information" in the case and frustrated by the lack of it recently offered by police. They would like to see the video surveillance from the John Paul Jones Arena the night of Morgan's disappearance, despite the fact police have assured them Morgan is not seen in any. One possible explanation for that seemingly inexplicable fact: "Our understanding," says Dan, "is that the Arena doesn't have as much surveillance as one might think." Furthermore, he believes some of the cameras in the arena as well as traffic cameras in the area don't record.
Mentioning a family beach trip they'll be taking in two weeks without Morgan, and Morgan's birthday on July 24, when she should have celebrated turning 21, Gil says time is not healing the family's wounds. "It's harder even then in the beginning," she says. "We need an arrest."
Anyone with information about the disappearance and death of Morgan Harrington should call the Virginia State Police tipline at 434-352-3467.