State police hope a new composite sketch, a plea from Metallica and social media efforts might prove the trick to finding the man who murdered a Virginia Tech student and raped a Fairfax City woman.
FBI and Virginia State Police launched a multimedia campaign Wednesday to renew interest in the search for a killer. They're taking the details of the case, along with celebrity appearances and an enhanced composite sketch of the suspect, to social media sites in the hopes they'll get the same kind of success they found after launching similar campaigns for the East Coast Rapist and Ten Most Wanted fugitive James “Whitey” Bulger.
This news is invigorating for those who have spent the last two years searching for the man who raped a Fairfax City woman in 2005 and killed 20-year-old Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington in 2009.
"There's no saving Morgan, she's finished. There's no turning aside from this reality," said Gil Harrington, Morgan's mother. "The only thing I can do is wake people up. This guy is still out there."
Since her remains were found at a farm southwest of Charlottesville in January 2010, Harrington's parents and friends have kept her memory alive by nonstop news appearances. Dan and Gil recently spoke on FOX's Justice with Judge Jeanine program. They also launched a Help Save the Next Girl campaign, started a scholarship fund, built a school in Africa, and rallied behind a campus investigation bill all in the hopes of finding a killer, honoring Harrington's memory and stopping the next murder.
They often drive to Charlottesville, Fairfax City and other Virginia locations to pass out flyers and talk about the unknown man who changed their lives and haunts their dreams.
Their last Fairfax City visit brought them to the Giant at Route 50 and Jermantown Road to walk the route a 26-year-old Fairfax woman took when she was attacked in 2005. Harrington's murder and the Fairfax City incident have been linked by DNA to the same man.
So far their grassroots campaigning has landed them countless media spots and over 25,000 Facebook group members. New national and state efforts can only help.
The new strategy includes a public service announcement by Metallica lead guitarist James Hetfield. In the Youtube video, Hetfield pleads with the public to come forward if they know anything about the night Harrington disappeared from the band's 2009 Charlottesville concert.
"Remember, any information, no matter who small you think it is, could be that crucial piece investigators need to help solve the case."
The band also added $50,000 to the Jefferson Crime Stoppers' $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the man responsible for Harrington's murder.
As part of the new campaign, State Police posted images of the enhanced composite sketch, along with information about the case on bus shelters in Washington D.C. and digital billboards in Richmond, Roanoke, Washington D.C and 23 other East Coast states. The case also made the spotlight in the FBI's "Wanted by the FBI" podcast, available on iTunes, in local radio shows, and in a new photo gallery on the FBI website.
And check back for more news updates on Patch.
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