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Police: Va. Tech student’s remains found

Police say they are confident that skeletal remains found on a Virginia farm are likely those of a Virginia Tech student who vanished after attending a Metallica concert.
/ Source: The Associated Press

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.