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Search for missing Virginia Tech student continues

The parents of Morgan Harrington, a 20-year-old Virginia Tech student who went missing Oct. 17 are spending the holiday season continuing the search for their daughter, and keeping their appeal for her safe return in the public eye.

On a website devoted to the search, the family said members of Forgotten Victims, a group Morgan had volunteered for, plans to include "Let's Bring Morgan Home for X-Mas" floats in upcoming holiday parades in Vinton, Salem and Roanoke. The group also will hand out fliers.

Morgan, a Virginia Tech junior, was last seen Oct. 17 when she separated from friends at a Metallica concert in Charlottesville. She ended up outside the University of Virginia's John Paul Jones Arena and couldn't get back in. Morgan talked to friends by cell phone and said she'd get a ride home. But she never arrived.

I have spoken to Morgan's parents, Daniel and Gil Harrington, a few times in recent weeks. They talked openly about their fears, their grief and their attempts to stay hopeful. They said they wouldn't stop looking.

Harrington. (Va. State Police)

After more than a decade of covering crime and courts, the Harringtons are among several families I have met who attempt to cope when a loved one vanishes. They describe an intense pain that comes from not knowing what happened, and imagining the worst. Many say they feel as though one aspect of their life has been frozen in time.

The anguish that Daniel and Gil, and their son, Alex, feel is expressed on a family blog. Gil Harrington typed out this message the day after the family made a Thanksgiving Day visit to the bridge where Morgan was last spotted:

"We are becoming unglued here at home," Gil wrote. "Angry at fate and each other for not making it all better, but yet we have nothing to give to make this okay. I hate to wish the days away, but I hope this one is over soon. It’s been a difficult month…"

Nationwide, there are about 100,500 people reported missing. The U.S. Department of Justice recently launched its National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, or NamUs, to help in the search. The online tool, which anyone in the public can look at, lists missing people. It also includes descriptions of unidentified remains.

NamUs, which is not yet a comprehensive list, lists 170 people who are missing from Virginia, Maryland and the District.

During my reporting on NamUs, I had the opportunity to talk to Darlene Huntsman, who has never stopped searching for her sister, Bernadette Caruso. One day in 1986, Caruso left her job at a Baltimore County jewelry store. She has not been seen by her family since.

Darlene Huntsman told me that every December she puts up her family's Christmas tree. Then she puts up a second Christmas tree for Bernadette. She said she usually pours a glass of wine and thinks of her sister as she decorates the tree.

Let's hope that Huntsman, the Harringtons and other families find answers.

-- Maria Glod

By Maria Glod  |  December 7, 2009; 2:10 PM ET
Categories:  Around the Nation , Maria Glod , Updates , Virginia  
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Posted by: | December 7, 2009 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Those aged 18-20 are also adults. It's unfortunate that the young woman who was a student at the University of Virginia has been missing for over a month. However, good thing the brother of the young woman has visited the last place where she last was seen to possibly find her.

Posted by: LibertyForAll | December 7, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

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