Grief renewed: Gil Harrington returns to Charlottesville amid new homicide
Gil Harrington brought her murdered daughter Morgan's ashes to Africa and brought an African stone back to Charlottesville, she told a group of reporters gathered on the Copeley Road Bridge on Wednesday afternoon, May 5, before she placed the stone among the memorabilia that covers the northeast corner of the Copeley Road bridge to commemorate the life of the 20-year-old killed after disappearing from a Metallica concert in October.
"We're trying to make something positive of this loss," says Gil, who described the three-room wing in Morgan's memory that will be added to a school in Zambia and talked about how Morgan had dreamed of traveling with her mother to the impoverished country.
While construction won't likely begin until November, Harrington says, on her recent 11-day humanitarian trip to the country with the nonprofit Orphan Medical Network International (OMNI), she mixed Morgan's ashes into the school building's foundation so that her daughter may, even in death, become a part of the growth and education of African children, as she'd dreamed of doing while she was alive.
Speaking to eight media members–- a group smaller than at her previous visits, perhaps, because of the intense focus on this week's UVA lacrosse killing–- Harrington expressed her sympathy for the family of Yeardley Love, allegedly slain May 3 by fellow student and men's lacrosse teammate George Huguely, whose lawyer maintains his innocence.
"We are devastated," said Gil Harrington, her eyes welling and urging Charlottesvillians to consider why violent crimes like those committed against Morgan and Yeardley are happening and what can be done to stop them.
"The powers that be," she says, "need to look at what's happening and not continue a policy of complacency."
Harrington says she and husband Dan remain convinced Morgan's killer lives in the Charlottesville community and says healing will be difficult to begin until there's an arrest in Morgan's case. On that front, she says, a recent meeting with investigators offered some hope.
"They're cautiously optimistic," she says, "of where the case is going."