Federal, state, and local law enforcement launched a multimedia campaign that includes two enhanced composite sketches of a suspect in the 2009 murder of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington. The unknown murder suspect is also connected by DNA to a 2005 sexual assault in Fairfax City, Virginia.
Authorities recently enhanced the composite sketch created in 2005 from a description by the sexual assault victim. One of the composites shows the suspect with facial hair, as the suspect was described at the time of the attack. The second composite sketch features him without facial hair.
The two attacks were connected through DNA after a forensic profile was submitted by the Virginia Department of Forensic Science to the FBI‘s national DNA database.
The search found that the suspect in the Harrington murder investigation matched the DNA profile of the attacker in Fairfax City.
The multimedia campaign includes a public service announcement by METALLICA lead guitarist James Hetfield appealing to the public to come forward with information concerning the Morgan Harrington investigation (see video below). The composite sketches of the suspect are being featured on bus shelters in Washington, D.C., as well as on digital billboards in Richmond, Virginia; Roanoke, Virginia; Washington, DC.; and in 23 other states along the East Coast. Social media outreach and alerts via Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, along with a website dedicated to the Harrington case were also launched Wednesday. Podcasts are now available on iTunes, and radio spots are airing to further raise awareness of the ongoing investigation.
The multi-pronged effort is designed to develop new leads and renew the public’s attention in the attacks. The campaign implements techniques similar to those that have led to the arrests of the East Coast Rapist as well as Ten Most Wanted fugitive James “Whitey” Bulger.
The Jefferson Area Crime Stoppers is offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for Morgan Harrington‘s murder. In addition, the band METALLICA is adding $50,000 to the reward, for a total of $150,000.
On the evening of Saturday, October 17, 2009, Harrington attended a METALLICA concert at John Paul Jones Arena on the University of Virginia (UVA) campus in Charlottesville, Virignia. At approximately 8:30 PM, she left the arena and was unable to re-enter the facility.
She was last seen hitchhiking for a ride from passing traffic.
Harrington was dressed that night in a black T-shirt with the word “Pantera” spelled out in tan letters and was wearing a distinctive Swarovski crystal necklace made of large crystal chain links, which investigators have yet to recover. Harrington‘s “Pantera” T-shirt was found on November 11, 2009, in front of a row of apartments along 15th Street, NW near Grady Avenue in Charlottesville. Harrington‘s skeletal remains were later discovered on January 26, 2010, in a remote field on an Albemarle County, Virginia farm along Route 29. A camera that Harrington had in her possession that night has never been recovered.
In a statement posted at their official web site, called “The Loss Of A Fan,” METALLICA wrote in part, “We are profoundly saddened by the news of the discovery of Morgan Dana Harrington‘s body . . . Mere words cannot express the anguish and grief that we know her parents Dan and Gil are feeling, and our thoughts are with them.”
Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Jefferson Area Crime Stoppers at 434-977-4000; or the Virginia State Police at 434-352-3467 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.