Hundreds turn out for Morgan Harrington search
The Jefferson Room at the Cavalier Inn at the corner of Emmet Street and Ivy Road was filled to capacity tonight–- and then some–- as hundreds of Charlottesville residents and out-of-towners registered for a weekend search for Morgan Harrington, missing since an October 17 Metallica concert at John Paul Jones Arena.
The search is being organized by the Laura Recovery Center, a nonprofit search agency founded by the parents of Laura Kate Smithers, a 12-year-old Texas girl who was kidnapped while jogging and murdered in 1997. In addition to Morgan's parents, Dan and Gil Harrington, various law enforcement agencies are helping coordinate the search.
This weekend's searches will begin Friday morning, November 6, at 9am. Interested volunteers, who do not need to have attended the pre-search presentation, should meet at the Forestry Center at 900 Natural Resources Drive behind the Fontaine Research Park. Would-be searchers must be 18 or over and have valid identification.
Laura Recovery Center founder Bob Smither, father of Laura, spoke at the hotel, just blocks from where Morgan was last seen on Copeley Bridge, to the hundreds of assembled volunteers– so many the presentation had to be given twice.
While most of those gathered will spend some portion of the next three days tromping through brush looking for any sign of Morgan, some made the trip just to show support.
"We were away and just found out what happened," said Ray Mayberry, whose wife, Carole, worked with Dan Harrington at Carilion Clinic in Roanoke. The retired pair said they are unable to participate in the rigors of a ground search, but drove from Roanoke to show support.
"We want to do what we can to help," Mayberry explained.
Starting Friday morning, groups of 10 will be assigned as-yet-to-be-determined search areas, Smither explained; any possible evidence discovered should not be touched. Volunteers are invited to show up throughout the day, as their schedules allow. The last groups will likely be sent out no later than 3pm.
"Our only priority," said Smither, "is finding Morgan.'
Anyone with questions about this weekend's searches can call (434) 960-0401.
Last updated Friday, November 6 at 3:27pm. Correction: Cavalier Inn is not a Best Western.–-ed