Wednesday, February 02, 2011
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Update in Morgan Harrington case: Necklace wasn't with body

State police, who are trying to track down the jewelry, also said DNA links the case to another.

Morgan Harrington was wearing a Swarovski crystal necklace like this one the night she disappeared in Charlottesville.

Courtesy of Virginia State Police

Morgan Harrington was wearing a Swarovski crystal necklace like this one the night she disappeared in Charlottesville.

Morgan Harrington's remains were found Jan. 26, 2010.

Courtesy of the Harrington family

Morgan Harrington's remains were found Jan. 26, 2010.

 

Ongoing coverage

 

Virginia State Police confirmed for the first time this week that investigators had not previously disclosed that a distinctive Swarovski-brand necklace Morgan Harrington wore the night she disappeared has not been recovered.

At the time of her disappearance in October 2009, to inform the massive search that followed, police released a description of Harrington's attire when she disappeared. The details referenced clothing and other items, including the Swarovski necklace.

Corinne Geller, a state police spokeswoman, confirmed Monday that investigators had not previously reported that the necklace was missing when Harrington's skeletal remains were found Jan. 26, 2010, by an Albemarle County farmer in a hayfield. Her death was ruled a homicide. The case has not been solved, and authorities have not commented on the cause of death.

State police also announced for the first time last week that a previously disclosed link between Harrington's case and another in Fairfax is DNA-based.

Harrington was 20 years old, a Virginia Tech student and lived with her family in Roanoke County when she disappeared Oct. 17, 2009, after leaving a rock concert early in Charlottesville. She was last seen hitchhiking on the Copeley Road bridge near the John Paul Jones Arena, the venue for that night's Metallica concert. Her case has received national attention.

In an e-mail Tuesday, Geller said investigator Dino Cappuzzo, a state police investigator, "has been checking with pawn shops, flea markets, etc., to see if the necklace has turned up."

She added, "There are a number of theories as to how/why the necklace was not found with her remains."

Other jewelry was found, including a silver bracelet and a custom-made gold signet ring that aided early efforts to identify the body.

"When her remains were found, we didn't comment on what personal items were and were not recovered at the scene," Geller said. "The Harringtons themselves released to the media [information] about the ring and bracelet."

Geller said Jan. 25 was the first time state police had discussed items found with Harrington's body.

"For investigative purposes there were certain details we initially had to keep concealed from the public," Geller said.

Cappuzzo revealed last week that other items were missing, too. He would not describe them.

In November 2009, police found a black T-shirt worn by Harrington the night she disappeared. They reported it had been found by a student in Charlottesville a few miles from the concert arena.

"We're not commenting on what other articles of clothing were not recovered with the remains," Geller said.

The initial police description reported that, in addition to the T-shirt, Harrington wore a black miniskirt, knee-high black boots and black tights. Cappuzzo said last week that the tights were akin to Lycra running tights and that many other young women wore similar outfits that night for the Metallica concert.

Gil Harrington, Morgan's mother, now wears the bracelet. Investigators have not yet returned the ring, which features an imprint copied from a ring owned by Gil's father.

On Tuesday, Gil Harrington estimated the large signet ring was worth about $800 to $900.

She said she had not realized authorities had not disclosed that the necklace remained missing.

Last week, hoping to elicit new leads, investigators held a walk-through for a small group of journalists of the crime's key events and locations. Gil and Dan Harrington, Morgan's father, participated. They said they were glad authorities were sharing a few more details that might trigger someone's memory or conscience.

Cappuzzo led the tour. He has said he does not know what the necklace might be worth.

On Tuesday, Gil Harrington estimated the value of the necklace, a gift to Morgan from her brother, at about $300 to $350.

In July, police reported that forensic evidence tied to Morgan Harrington's case linked it to an unsolved abduction and sexual assault in 2005 in Fairfax. They released a composite sketch of an unidentified man believed to have been the assailant in that crime.

Cappuzzo said that DNA was the forensic evidence linking the two cases. Cappuzzo would not identify the source of the DNA sample.

Swarovski U.S. is located in Rhode Island. A company spokesman could not be reached for comment Tuesday about the necklace's design, elements and potential value.

Gil Harrington said she wonders now whether her daughter's killer or killers kept the necklace as a trophy of the crime.

Geller said media coverage of last week's walk-through yielded a "surge in tips."

Investigators encourage people to contact them with information about the case. The state police tip line is (434) 352-3467. The e-mail address is bci-appomattox@vsp.virginia.gov.

A reward of $150,000 is offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Harrington's killer or killers. Metallica contributed $50,000 to the reward.

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