Route 29 Linkage?

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA, June 6, 2010 — After leaving the Shenandoah National Park, the Spingola Files (SF) traveled to the college town of Charlottesville, the home of the University of Virginia. 

But before venturing into town, SF visited the periphery of Anchorage Farms, where David Bass, the owner of the 720 acre property discovered the body of Morgan Harrington in late January. 

The property of Anchorage Farms begins approximately 60 feet from the center late of Route 29.  The entrance to the property is gated, although, at the time we visited, this gate was pulled open.  I sincerely doubt that an individual, having just committed a homicide, would risk entering the dump site from this location.

That being said, the area of the farm where Morgan’s body was located is easily accessible from the Blandemar Estates subdivision.  Saying the Blandemar area is an atypical subdivision is an understatement.  This is very upscale development. By my estimation, the lots are five acre parcels.  In the area near Waldemar Drive, only two homes are visible, one of which is under construction and probably didn’t exist at the time of the murder.  Another large home sits at the intersection of Blandemar and Waldemar Drives; however, trees surrounding this residence might obstruct the view of its occupants.

I believe the Morgan’s killer probably parked his vehicle on Waldemar Drive — possibly in front of the home currently under construction — threw Morgan Harrington’s body over his shoulder and walked onto the Anchorage Farms property. 

Without a doubt, this is a case that reading the police reports would likely answer several questions, although I believe that the suspect is very familiar with the area.  Why drive ten miles and then pick this particular spot to dispose of a body?  Why not choose other areas that are more isolated and closer to the John Paul Jones Arena?  My guess is the suspect felt comfortable in the vicinity of Anchorage Farms and is likely aware that this particular sector of the property would not be checked for some period of time.

SF then visited Charlottesville proper.  On the Copeley Road bridge — at the spot where Morgan Harrington was observed hitching for a ride — a make-shift memorial stands just above a set of railroad tracks. Today, this area was home to the NCAA baseball regional.  Pedestrian and vehicular track was particularly heavy.  On the evening of the Metallica concert, my guess is many more people were present. 

Looking at other open investigations, the Morgan Harrington case has some similarities to the 1996 homicide of Alicia Showalter Reynolds, which was initiated on Virginia’s Route 29—a major arterial highway located only a few blocks from the Copeley Road bridge.  Showalter Reynolds’ credit card was located on Clay Street in Culpepper the day she was abducted.  Her parka was located on Route 626, although her body wasn’t discovered until May 17, 1996.  Harrington’s purse and cell phone were found in a parking lot near the UVA athletic fields shortly after her disappearance.  Her Pantera t-shirt was discarded and located two days later near the West Lawn apartments.  In both instances, the killer disposed of the property of the victims, almost as if he hoped they would be located.

Certainly, the method of operation originally developed by the Route 29 stalker (i.e. pulling alongside female motorist and encouraging them to stop due to car trouble) would no longer be effective.  The proliferation and use of cellular telephones would require the perpetrator to alter his MO.

NEXT: check back tomorrow as SF will post an update regarding the search for Keith Call and Cassandra Hailey.

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Steven Spingola is a former Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective and the author of The Killer in Our Midst: the Case of Milwaukee’s North Side Strangler.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI 2010

6 Responses

  1. CMM

    Today is the 9th and no update on the Colonial Parkway case. In all the Virginia cases, you have not posted anything that has not already been in the papers. Where is the new information you promised?

    June 9, 2010 at 3:51 pm

  2. Steve Spingola

    True, since arriving back in Milwaukee, I’ve been busy catching up on the things at work that I missed with the Virginia visit and have not posted the update. However, your assertion that we have not posted anything that is not in the media is very misleading.

    If my memory serves me correctly, most of the items that appeared in the media, the Spingola Files (SF) reported them first. So, if readers were following the SF Web site in a timely manner during the visit, they would have received live updates (not updates at 6 p.m. or 11 p.m.

    Furthermore, little has been written in the MSN about the National Park Service’s rules-are-rules mentality. Funny thing, though, after SF reported on the initial bureaucratic obstruction, the NPS permitted an expanded serarch. Was that in the media?

    Did the media interview the Natinonal Park Service’s compliance officer to get an idea what the cadaver dogs hit on, why he didn’t believe the remains were historical, and provide detailed infornation concerning the prior dig that occurred along the Colonial Parkway in 2007 & 2008? Has anyone in the media actually went Shenandoah National Park and located the crime scene of Julie Williams and Lollie Winans? Has anyone reported, during this vist or prior to the vist, having located the scene in the Shenadoah, and then created a profile of the killer?

    Has anyone in the media made the nexus between Morgan Harrington’s killer and the Route 29 stalker by linking the calling card of the killer (using discarded personal property of the victims)?

    It’s all there in white and black on this site. Unless either you or I missed something.

    June 9, 2010 at 8:57 pm

  3. I am the mother of Alicia Showalter Reynolds. I know many persons have suggested the linkage of Morgan Harrington’s case and Alicia’s murder. Thanks for filling in some of the details about Harrington; the fact that her purse and other items were scattered at different locations, and not close to where the body was found. That is similar to how Alicia’s items were scattered. Just a correction- Alicia’s body was found on May 7, 1996, not the 17th.

    Thanks for the important work you are doing on keeping everyone informed on these unsolved cases.

    June 16, 2010 at 12:53 am

  4. Steve Spingola

    Sadie,

    Thank you for taking the time to post a comment. Sorry about the typo on the date. My fingers are sometimes incompatiable with a keyboard.

    With the proliferation of cell phones, the Route 29 stalker would likely change his MO. One thing to watch about the Blue Ridge Parkway suspect, Mr. Jackson: he is a mechanic. The Route 29 suspect used vehicle problems as a ruse. Furthermore, mechanics sometimes do work on the side and/or have access to a number of vehicles.

    Steve

    June 16, 2010 at 9:54 am

  5. Liz

    Steve,

    Has anyone written to you re the disappearance/death of Tish Faust, off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Floyd VA? She disappeared last Dec after calling her mother saying she was returning home with dinner, but was going to a lookout on the parkway first. You will see a number of articles about her. Her car was found in a remote area, abandoned, with the contents (money, cell, food, medicine) undisturbed. In late March, her remains were found in a ravine about 1000 feet away. LE has declined to comment whether it was homicide, accidental, or natural causes. This was about halfway between where the VATech students were found murdered and where Jackson shot the couple.

    August 10, 2010 at 7:24 pm

  6. Steve Spingola

    Liz,

    Check the posting about the Predators in the Parkway article coming soon. A reader posted a comment and I replied that I will look into the matter. If you can send any links, I would appreicate it.

    Steve

    August 10, 2010 at 10:51 pm

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