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Police seek clues in slaying of Virginia Tech student

Virginia State Police on Thursday made a public appeal for help in their search for the killer of Morgan Harrington, 20, a Virginia Tech student whose body was found Jan. 26 on a farm in southern Albemarle County.

Harrington was last seen after she was separated from friends during an Oct. 17, Metallica concert at the University of Virginia’s John Paul Jones arena.

Authorities have concluded the death was a homicide, but said the specific cause and time are still undetermined.

Lt. Joe Rader on Thursday told reporters that the location where Harrington's body was found could provide a key clue. The field, on the 700-acre Anchorage Farm, is off the beaten path, police said. They think the attacker likely was familiar with the area and could navigate the fences, fields and streams nearby.

"Of all the events that transpired between Morgan and the person or persons responsible for this tragic incident, the person or persons responsible had complete control of deciding to choose the specific farm where Morgan was discovered," Rader said in a statement. "Therefore, investigators need to understand who knows this area."

Police also released a list describing possible characteristics of the killer:

1. The person responsible may or may not have a formal connection to Anchorage Farm where Morgan was recovered, but investigators believe the person(s) responsible is likely to have traveled, worked, recreated, or lived in close proximity to this farm or some other nearby property.
2. The person(s) responsible in this tragic incident may have been inclined to return to the farm location during a period of increased stress.
3. Investigators are confident that persons, through no fault of their own, know the person(s) responsible or have knowledge of specific instances whereby the person(s) responsible visited or traveled through the general location of where Morgan’s remains were recovered.
4. Investigators believe the person(s) responsible had specific knowledge, and was comfortable operating in the area, which is a considerable distance from the nearest roadway.
5. This choice of location is quite different from the decision to leave a body on or adjacent to a major public roadway, or some other area accessed with little or no risk.
6. Traveling to the Anchorage Farm location would have created a significant risk for any person unfamiliar with the area, and not comfortable to this type of setting. Farmland like the place where Morgan’s body was discovered presents difficult obstacles such as fences, streams, and difficult terrain variations - such challenges a person unfamiliar with this particular location would most likely have avoided.

Police ask that anyone with information about the case specifically related to the property contact police at (434)709-1685. People with other tips can call (434) 352-3467 or e-mail police.

-- Maria Glod

By Maria Glod  |  February 4, 2010; 5:44 PM ET
Categories:  Maria Glod , Updates , Virginia  
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The suspect sounds like they worked at the farm or grew up near it.

I sincerely hope the police remain vigilant catch this murderer.

Posted by: kenk3 | February 4, 2010 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Or a local hunter? As hunters have knowledge of many remote areas as these are good for hunting. The "may have been inclined to the farm location during a period of increased stress." is interesting 'pro-filer' take on it. Lets hope that they are caught and left DNA or some other evidence at the scene to make it an air tight case...

Posted by: drewbird911 | February 4, 2010 11:03 PM | Report abuse

I hope they catch the depraved one who committed this crime. No need to patrol the area because they just warned the person to stay away from the area during times of stress.What purpose does it serve to list so many characteristics of the killer other than to warn him?

Posted by: peace4all2 | February 5, 2010 2:36 AM | Report abuse

"You got purty hair..."

Catch him.

Posted by: 123cartoon | February 5, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

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