Murder case: Broadcast set for Morgan Harrington program
Investigators have been quiet on the Morgan Harrington case since January, when police led media on a tour of key sites including the John Paul Jones Arena, where the 20-year-old Virginia Tech student vanished during a year-and-a-half-ago Metallica concert. On Monday, April 18, however, the case roars back into a national spotlight as the Investigation Discovery channel debuts an hour-long installment of a popular mystery program.
The Hook was offered a pre-release view of this episode of the Disappeared series. Entitled "Heavy Metal Mystery," it features extensive interviews with parents Dan and Gil Harrington, Virginia State Police investigators Joe Rader and Dino Cappuzzo, newspaper deliverywoman and possible witness Norma Parson, (as well as a brief interview with this reporter.)
In a somber tone, a narrator offers grim facts with some scenes reenacted by actors. Dark lighting lends an ominous mood to the program, which focuses not only on the investigation, but on the terror and devastation the Harringtons have faced as they live through every parent's worst nightmare.
In one particularly chilling scene, a black-clad lookalike stands silhouetted on the Copeley Road bridge with her thumb out. The blonde education major's increasingly erratic behavior is suggested in other scenes.
As extensively reported in the Hook, Morgan was last seen wearing a black t-shirt bearing the band name Pantera and hitchhiking on the bridge sometime just before 9:30pm on October 17, 2009. There would be no sign of her until her skeletal remains were discovered on a remote Albemarle County farm more than three months later.
The most recent public development is the launch of a familial DNA search, which might determine whether the man whose DNA Morgan was found on the Pantera t-shirt and who brutally raped a woman in Fairfax in 2005, has any immediate family members with DNA is in the state's databank. Such searches were green-lighted in March, and the Harrington family and investigators hope a "hit" will provide a much needed lead.
The Disappeared show hopes to do the same by walking viewers through the facts, perhaps triggering witness memories or prompting new tips from those who have not yet come forward.
In Charlottesville, the Disappeared episode will air at 9pm on April 18 on Investigation Discovery. (Comcast: channel 111, DirecTV: channel 285, Dish Network: channel 192)
Information regarding the Morgan Harrington case should be called in to the Virginia State Police tip line: 434-352-3467.