Morgan was a 20-year-old Virginia Tech college student in her third year to complete her Education Degree, when she took the night off to hang out with her friends and attend a Metallica concert at theJohn Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, Virginia. Somehow. about 8:30 pm, she became separated from her friends after leaving them to go to the bathroom, and became lost, exiting the Arena. When her friends called her after realizing she had been gone for some time, Morgan told them on the phone call that she was unable to get back, and that she would just find her way home, and for her friends not to worry about her. Morgan was wearing a black T-shirt with 'Pantera' written across the front of it in tan lettering, a black mini-skirt, black eights and black knee-high boots. Her purse and cell phone were both found by a passerby in the overflow parking lot between the arena and the athletic field. During her disappearance, $150,000 was accumulated for a reward to bring her loved ones to Morgan. Metallica contributed $50,000 of that money.
Police reported that she was still in the nearby area about 9:30 pm. Originally, Investigators announced that there was no evidence a crime had been committed.
Investigators later revealed that the Pantera shirt Morgan wore the night she disappeared was discovered November 2009 in an apartment over a mile from the arena.
Suspect Jesse Leroy Matthews Jr, 33
Charged with first degree murder and abduction with intent to defile
January 26, 2010, human remains were located by a farmer, David Dass, on his tractor inspecting fences over his 700 acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The location of the remains were found in a very remote location in southern Albemarie County, Virginia about ten miles from the John Paul Jones Arena where she was last seen.
A forensic link put two victims, Morgan Harrington and Hannah Graham with one suspect, thanks to DNA comparison, and Investigators working together. Jesse Matthew owned that DNA. Hannah was 18 when she disappeared on September 12, 2014, also in Charlottsville.
Jesse Matthew was charged with first-degree murder and abduction in the killing of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington in 2009. Jesse was a patient technician at the UVA medical center where Morgan attended.
An Alford Plea was offered to Jesse - where he does not have to admit guilt, or even explain what happened to his victims, or why he took their lives. He just had to sign away stating that he understood the Prosecution had enough evidence against him that would most likely cause him to be found guilty. That gives him a deal on his sentence, and lack of accountability. The death penalty was off the table along with the capital murder charge, in return for a life sentence.
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The world has lost it's best hugger. The incomparable Morgan Dana Harrington was torn from us on October 17, 2009. Morgan, age 20, was a shiny, loving, beautiful original. She was very much loved by her family, her friends, and her community, which has now expanded to include much of the world. We cherish the time we had with Morgan and are grateful for the breadth and variety of experiences we were able to share in her tragically abbreviated life.
Morgan was born on July 24, 1989, in Charlottesville, Va., and died there in October 2009. She was an avid music fan, a champion of children's rights, and planned a career in education.
To recognize some of Morgan's passions we ask that, in lieu of flowers, gifts to honor Morgan's memory be made to the Morgan Dana Harrington Memorial Scholarship at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine or to OMNI Orphan Medical Network International, an organization that provides medical care in Africa. Scholarship donations may be mailed to: Virginia Tech, Attn: Gift Accounting, University Development (0336), Blacksburg, Va. 24061, and OMNI donations to 6930 Empire Lane, Roanoke, Va. 24018.
Our reconfigured family, Dan, Gil, and Alex plan on honoring Morgan with a Mass 3:30 p.m. on Friday, February 5, 2010, at St. Andrew's Catholic Church. A reception to celebrate Morgan's life will follow at the Hotel Roanoke.
We are grief stricken by her death but also lifted by the knowledge that Morgan Dana Harrington was precious to so many and will not be forgotten. She mattered to us all.