Video: Cops say skeletal remains are missing student

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    >>> reports of any casualties.

    >>> a search for the missing virginia tech student has apparently ended tragically. police believe that a body found on tuesday is that of morgan harrington , who disappeared three months ago. nbc's ron mott is in charlottesville, virginia, with more on this story. ron , good morning.

    >> reporter: ann, good morning to you. police say they're confident they have recovered the remains of 20-year-old morgan harrington , ending a painful search for her family and friends. now the search is on for clues in what's likely to be a homicide investigation. a farmer tending to his field spotted the remains tuesday morning in a remote part of his property, initially thinking they belonged to an animal.

    >> i saw what i thought was a dead deer. i got a little closer, and it didn't look like a deer skull.

    >> reporter: instead, police soon concluded the remains are likely those of 20-year-old morgan harrington , the virginia student who briefly attended a metallica rock concert on the university of virginia campus last october.

    >> while this has been a missing person 's case, we have always treated this as potentially a homicide. the cause of death will be determined, hopefully, by the medical examiner. we still proceed as if this is a homicide, and most likely will be a homicide.

    >> reporter: harrington called friends inside the arena saying she had wound up outside without her ticket stub after going to the bathroom and wasn't let back in. she said she'd get a ride home, told them not to worry but was never seen again.

    >> this is what she looks like.

    >> reporter: harrington 's parents, who made emotional pleas for her safe return, rushed to the area. her mother jill's recollection of their last conversation now all the more somber.

    >> as she left, morgan 's last words to me were "two, four, one, mama. i love you too much, forever, one more time."

    >> reporter: police fielded hundreds of tips here over the last several months and hope for one more to lead to an arrest if, in fact, morgan harrington was murdered.

    >> ron mott, thanks.

    >>> hundreds of tourists are trapped

updated 1/27/2010 8:17:51 AM ET 2010-01-27T13:17:51

The remains of a Virginia Tech student who disappeared in October after attending a Metallica concert were discovered Tuesday in a remote farm field about 10 miles from the venue, authorities said.

Virginia State Police Superintendent Steve Flaherty said authorities are confident they've found the remains of 20-year-old Morgan Harrington, but an autopsy was being conducted to confirm the identification. The Roanoke County woman was last seen on Oct. 17 while attending the concert in Charlottesville.

"We can't say with 100 percent certainty, however, there were significant items and evidence" to lead authorities to conclude the remains were Harrington's, Flaherty said during a late afternoon news conference. Investigators declined to say what the items were.

Autopsy results should be available by Wednesday.

The remains were found Tuesday morning by farmer David Bass while he was on a tractor inspecting fences on his 700 acres in the rugged foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Flaherty described the location as a "very remote." The farm is in southern Albemarle County, about 10 miles from the John Paul Jones Arena.

"We are in the very infant stages of this investigation. We have more questions then we do have answers," Flaherty said.

Police have said Harrington, a junior majoring in education, had gone to Charlottesville to attend the concert. She became separated from friends after she left the arena and was denied re-entry.

Harrington was last seen wearing a black T-shirt with "Pantera" across the front in tan letters, a black mini skirt, black tights and black knee-high boots. Her purse and cell phone were found by a passer-by in a small parking lot between the arena and an athletic field.

Hundreds of volunteers as well as law enforcement officials searched the surrounding area. The case drew national attention, police received hundreds of tips, and at least $150,000 in rewards were offered. Metallica contributed $50,000.

Morgan's image was seen on billboards and posters around Virginia, and her family created a Web site to further the search.

Flaherty said the farm wasn't searched before because authorities had no evidence leading them to the farm.

Harrington's parents were in Charlottesville, but did not attend the news conference.

"They are reacting as parents would react in this particular situation," said Lt. Joe Rader of the Virginia State Police, who he spoke with Harrington's parents shortly before the news conference.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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