Morgan's parents: don't blame her friends
The parents of missing Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington urge would-be sleuths not to blame the 20-year old woman's friends for failing to report her disappearance during an October 17 heavy metal concert in Charlottesville.
"They're not to blame," says father Dan Harrington. "Everyone wants to make them out to be the bad guy, but they're not the bad guy."
The woman's disappearance didn't get reported to authorities until the next day when her father called police after she failed to show for a pre-arranged visit home to study math and balance her checkbook.
But should the friends at the concert have reported her missing?
"I wish they had," says her dad, "but I don't know that it would have changed anything. She's not a 7-year-old. They wouldn't have put out an Amber Alert."
"This is not about let's find who's to blame," says Morgan's mother, Gil. "Let's find her."
Police say that the young woman left the Metallica concert some time around 8:30pm, a time before the main act took the stage. She reportedly telephoned one of her friends inside the concert to advise the friend–- part of a group of longtime pals affectionately know as "the nine"–- that she'd find a way home.
"This was a core group of girls who did stuff," says Gil. "Not like the snotty cute girls."
Though they are not unattractive.
Together, the nine put together a vigil that drew hundreds of friends and well-wishers who gathered at Northside High School on Thursday, October 22.
"We met with them on Thursday and cried," says Dan.
"They were eloquent, articulate, and they were undefended enough to give real feelings of themselves and for Morgan," says Gil. "They were just amazing."
As to why the nine in general and the two friends who, along with a boyfriend, accompanied Morgan to the concert, have not been giving press interviews, Morgan's mother sees innocent reasons.
"They're trying to go to class," says Morgan's mother. "They're trying to deal with the fact that their friend is lost."
The parents made their comments Saturday, October 24 in an in-home interview after going on national television to plea for any abductor to return their daughter.
"We're like anybody's mom and dad," says Gil. "Morgan could be anybody's child."
Meanwhile, they wrestle with the horrific thought that their daughter might have been lured outside the safe confines of the John Paul Jones Arena–- a $131 million structure equipped with concessions, 18 women's restrooms, and even a smoking area overlooking Emmet Street–- to meet outside with a stranger.
"Has our fault been that we created a beautiful, shining–- but guileless–- girl?" asks Gil. "Should we have installed fear?"
–last updated 12:16pm with additional Arena detail