Posts tagged “Morgan Harrington

Northern Illinois University Homicide No Walk in the Park

The case of a missing young, Naperville, Illinois woman illustrates that predators continue to view college campuses akin to shooting fish in a barrel.  

Antinette “Toni” Keller, an 18-year-old freshmen at Northern Illinois University, was last observed just before noon as she left her dormitory, Neptune Hall, on October 14, 2010. Keller told acquaintances she was going for a walk in Prairie Park, a 150 acre DeKalb municipal park, located just south of campus.

To their credit, local authorities made use of a plethora of resources.   A methodical grid search of the large park was conducted with cadaver dogs and by assets from the air.  Late last week, searchers found human remains inside a wooded area.  DeKalb’s Police Chief Bill Feithen didn’t waste any time calling in the heavy hitters—the Major Case Squad, a task force that includes DeKalb police, Northern Illinois police detectives, as well as investigators from DeKalb County and the Illinois State Police.

While Feithen classified the discovery of human remains as a “death investigation,” requesting the services of the Major Case Squad clearly points to a homicide.  

At a late night October 23 press conference, police disclosed they had discovered items belonging to Toni Keller inside Prairie Park.  The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the property belonging to Keller was located just south of Illinois State Highway 38 (also known as Lincoln Highway) near a line of railroad tracks.  While the remains have yet to be officially identified, investigators clearly believe the body is that of Toni Keller. 

The Keller case is eerily reminiscent to another ongoing investigation that occurred nearly 850 miles and five states to the east—the murder of 20 year-old Morgan Harrington.   Coincidently, Harrington disappeared on October 17, 2009, almost a year-to-the-day that Keller went missing.  She was last observed thumbing for a ride on the Copeley Road Bridge that hovers above a set of railroad tracks on the University of Virginia campus.  Harrington’s body, however, was found on a farm several miles from campus, suggesting that she was transported in a vehicle.  In July, the Virginia State Police released information indicating that DNA linked Harrington’s killer to a 2005 Virginia sexual assault.  A composite sketch of the suspect in the 2005 rape depicts an African-American male with a round face and beard.

The Harrington and Keller homicides are, of course, likely unrelated, but the similarities illustrate that predators see college campus as a hunting ground for naïve or inebriated women who, for whatever reasons, walk or stagger alone.  It is the isolation of the victims that creates the opportunity for these killers to fulfill their demented sexual fantasies of power and control. 

Reading between the lines, authorities in DeKalb are keeping the details of the Keller crime scene close to the vest.  Only a week old, the victim’s remains will probably provide investigators with the physical evidence needed to forensically identify the perpetrator.  Crimes of opportunity typically involve disorganized slayings; whereby, the suspect’s actions are poorly planned. 

RALPH LEON JACKSON UPDATE

Two weeks ago, Augusta County, Virginia prosecutors dismissed a homicide case against Ralph Leon Jackson, a 57-year-old mechanic and the alleged perpetrator in the slaying of Timothy P. Davis on the Blue Ridge Parkway. 

But a lack of evidence is not the reason for the state case being dropped.

Instead, federal authorities have decided to prosecute Jackson in the April double shooting.   Authorities from the Augusta County DA’s office readily admit that the reason for the federal prosecution is that Jackson would likely face a tougher sentence.  Because Davis was shot but likely died due to a fall off a bluff, under Virginia law, Jackson would likely be ineligible for a capital murder sentence.  However, since the Blue Ridge Parkway is U.S. property, federal guidelines may call for a death sentence.

Is it possible that prosecutors believe that Jackson may be involved in other Virginia slayings and are simply upping the ante in an effort to get him to cooperate for sentencing considerations?

Hummmm….

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 Steven Spingola is a former Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective and the author of Predators on the Parkway: a Former Homicide Detective Explores the Colonial Parkway Murders and The Killer in Our Midst: the Case of Milwaukee’s North Side Strangler.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI,2010


DNA Hit Links Harrington Homicide to Probable Serial Rapist

Last week, officials from the Virginia State Police (VSP) released information linking the slaying of 20-year-old college student Morgan Harrington to the 2005 sexual assault of women in Fairfax.  Nearly 100 miles separate the two crime scenes. 

Although VSP officials will not disclose the evidence linking the two cases, DNA analysis is the likely nexus. 

In the 2005 Fairfax incident, the victim was abducted by a black male while walking home from a grocery store at approximately one-in-the-morning. 

The modus operandi of the suspect may cause investigators to rethink the widely held belief that Morgan Harrington was abducted while hitchhiking on the Copeley Road Bridge.  A newspaper delivery person claims to have observed Morgan leaving an apartment building at 3:45 a.m. on October 18, only blocks from the location where her Pantera t-shirt was later located. Media reports suggest that investigators were initially skeptical of the newspaper delivery woman’s observations.

The DNA hit linking the Harrington investigation and the 2005 assault creates two scenarios: either the suspect is not a convicted felon or he has fallen through the cracks of the criminal justice system. Walter Ellis, Milwaukee’s alleged North Side Strangler, is an example of the latter.  While incarcerated, Ellis reportedly convinced a fellow inmate to supply a DNA sample. 

Having visited the area of the Harrington crime scene, the disposal site leads me to believe the suspect has knowledge of the area.  The 720-acre Anchorage Farms is somewhat isolated, although the suspect likely gained access to the property via an affluent subdivision, where homeowners would view any vehicular traffic suspiciously. 

This leads me to believe that the perpetrator is a somewhat educated risk taker. He probably scouts the area for a day or two before committing his crimes then waits for the right opportunity to present itself.

Moreover, I sincerely doubt these are the only two crimes this man has committed in nearly five years.  Psychological profiles of serial rapists and those convicted of sexual homicides typically involve crimes of fantasy and control.  After committing these crimes, the perpetrators go through a cooling-off period; however, their fantasies persist to the point where they strike again. 

From past experience, the good news is the release of the sketch is likely producing hundreds of tips.  Without a doubt, it will take time to sort through the reams of information generated by the public.  Nonetheless, let’s hope that the VSP hones-in on the perpetrator before another woman falls prey.

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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


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


Shooting Suspect Invokes His Penile Rights

A search warrant filed in a Virginia court confirms that purported Blue Ridge shooting suspect, Ralph Leon Jackson, made statements against his penal interests about his penile interests.

During a search warrant executed at Jackson’s Howardsville Turnpike home, investigators discovered two plastic containers with the words “male enhancement” written on them.  A detective later spoke to Jackson, who said that the substances made him “foggy.”

In an earlier column, I discussed the significance of the Blue Ridge Parkway incident:

http://www.badgerwordsmith.com/spingolafiles/2010/04/09/a-break-in-the-case/

Reading between the lines, however, the substances marked “male enhancement” are not, in all likelihood, physician prescribed, which means they could be anything Jackson believed would enhance “male” behavior, such as ecstasy or other mood altering medications.

Reports claim that Jackson suffers from advanced prostate cancer and is under going chemotherapy.  In many instances, prostrate cancer spreads to the bones, creating a particularly excruciating condition.  Severe pain sometimes leads the afflicted to self-medicate with non-prescribed drugs.  As such, it will be interesting to hear the toxicology results.  

Moreover, media reports indicate that police have filed the paperwork needed to retrieve Jackson’s DNA.  Typically, unless a preliminary test is fast tracked, two to nine months are needed to compare samples with CODUS, a national DNA databank maintained by the FBI.

On another note, readers of this site are keenly aware of my interest in these Virginia cases.  A possibility exists that one suspect — whether it is the Colonial Parkway murders, the Route 29 stalker case, the Shenandoah National Park slayings, or the Morgan Harrington homicide — may have had a hand in these other incidents.  

Over the course of the last month, I have communicated with family members of the Colonial Parkway victims.  In the near future, the Spingola Files will travel to Virginia to highlight these troubling cases. By raising the profile of these unsolved offenses, it is possible that persons with knowledge of these crimes will come forward and shed some light on the identifies of these nefarious killers.

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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.

Copyright, Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2010


The Wackos of Westboro

Worse than the murder itself it’s not; however, it’s a close second. 

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church—known in some circles as ‘the wackos of Westboro’—plan to demonstrate in Blacksburg, Virginia tomorrow claiming the violent homicide of 20-year-old Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington is a curse from God.  The young woman was as last seen alive thumbing for a ride outside a Metallica concert, held on the University of Virginia campus, on October 17, 2009.  Her body was discovered on January 26, 2010, on a 720 acre farm in nearby Albemarle County.

This is the same Westboro Baptist Church that recently caught the ire of many Americans for protesting adjacent to the funeral of a U.S. serviceman killed in the line of duty.   The group claimed the young U.S. Marine died as a result of God’s wrath towards America’s pro-homosexual agenda.

“We’ve already had our daughter abducted, raped, and murdered,” Morgan’s mother, Gil Harrington, recently told NBC Channel 12, “and now we have this postmortem attack.”

According to WDBJ Channel 7, the Westboro Baptist Church informed city administrators that it plans to picket outside a Jewish Community Center, along Blacksburg’s Main Street, and in front of a middle school. 

Dan Harrington, Morgan’s father, plans to be present but will not engage the protesters.  “They [members of the Westboro Baptist Church] plan to be at Virginia Tech tomorrow to protest a number of things, including the fact Morgan Harrington’s death was deserved, and, again, how would any family feel when you hear those types of comments made?”

Like all Americans, members of the Westboro Baptist Church are entitled to their free speech rights.  Sane and compassionate individuals throughout the nation, however, will stand arm-in-arm and pray for the Harringtons as the family deals with the tragic death of their daughter.

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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.

Copyright, Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2010


Spingola Files Polo Shirts Now Available

Since this Web site’s inception, a number of people have passed along tips regarding interesting investigations.  Many of these cases merit further scrutiny.  To look further, however, the Spingola Files — like any other worthy operation — is in need of additional resources. 

In an effort to develop the revenue needed to dig deeper, I have created a line of Spingola Files polo shirts.  Available in sizes medium, large and extra large, these classy black shirts feature the trademarked Spingola Files logo. 

As many of you know, obtaining information via open records, conducting detailed research, and traveling to venues to explore open homicide cases, takes both time and money.  I am more than willing to invest the time.  After all, justice, in many instances, is illusive.  Now I am asking the readers of this site to underwrite some of the expenses by purchasing a polo shirt or two. 

My goal is to raise the necessary funds to travel with a colleague to Charlottesville, Virginia to thoroughly examine the Morgan Harrington case, the Colonial Parkway murders, and activities related to the Route 29 stalker. 

To get a look at the official Spingola Files polo shirt and obtain an order form, please visit:

http://www.classifiedads.com/clothing_apparel-ad2649021.htm

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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.

Copyright, Steven Spingola, Wales, WI 2010


Broken Bones, Broken Hearts

New information has surfaced regarding the homicide of 21-year-old Morgan Harrington. On St. Patrick’s Day, Morgan’s parents, Dan and Gil Harrington, held a news conference in front of the John Paul Jones Arena on the University of Virginia campus. 

Morgan Harrington disappeared after attending a Metallica concert at the JPJ Arena last October. A farmer discovered her body on January 26 in a relatively remote area of his property.  Forensic pathologists wasted little time declaring the missing woman’s death a homicide. Investigators have not disclosed the specific cause of death. 

Police, however, released Morgan’s body to her family in February. Her parents believe broken bones made it evidently clear that their daughter suffered a violent death.

“A monster walks among you,” Morgan’s mother, Gil Harrington, told the media, “a violent, sadistic and dangerous man.”

By going public with this information, the Harrington’s are walking a tight rope. In most instances, detectives usually prefer to keep details of an open investigation under wraps. When specifics about a case leak out, two things generally happen: first, the killer discovers details of the criminal inquiry from the newspaper. Second, information that bleeds into the public eye can compromise the integrity of a confession.

Why then would the Harringtons go public with any details that may reduce the chances of the government obtaining a conviction in their own daughter’s tragic death? It is apparent that the Harringtons do not want to see another family suffer through the same ordeal that has rocked their lives. By painting a picture of a possible serial killer fulfilling his violent fantasies of power and control, the Harringtons are providing notice to potential victims. I also see the Harringtons’ news conference as an effort to keep political pressure on investigators and prosecutors.  Not for one minute do they want this case to get back benched or turn cold.

The Charlottesville, Virginia news publication The Hook reports that Gil Harrington suggested “a possible link between Morgan’s abduction and death and other unsolved cases in Virginia, including the Colonial Parkway murders and the Route 29 stalker.”

The modus operandi of the Colonial Parkway killer differs significantly. From 1986 to 1989, the suspect killed three couples, primarily young adults. Links from these cases to Morgan Harrington’s are the disposal of the bodies.  In two instances, September 1987 and October 1989, investigators located victims of the Colonial Parkway killer in secluded areas.  At first glance, it appears the suspect targeted couples in parked vehicles — primarily in remote areas — in the vacinity for the purposes of sexual liaisons. Investigators believe the killer may have impersonated a police officer. Nearly 20 years have passed, which leads me to believe that the Colonial Parkway killer is either dead or incarcerated. 

The Route 29 stalker developed and fined tuned his demented fantasies as a Good Samaritan motorist.  Active during the late 1980s, this middle-aged white male would flash his headlights and pull along side female motorists.  Using the ruse of car troubles —  sparks emanating from underneath the car or other mechanical problems — he would encourage his victims to pull off to the side of the road.  The suspect would then conduct a supposed examination of the car and offer transportation to a nearby telephone or service station.  Initially, several women accepted rides without consequence.  Later on, however, he attacked one woman, who escaped, while another, Alicia Reynolds, went missing and was later found dead in a remote wooded area. Victims described the suspect, at the time, as being clean-cut and 35 to 45 years-of-age. 

Although specific details pertaining to the deaths of the victims in both the Colonial Parkway and Route 29 matters are not public, I believe the current ages of these suspects, as well as their methods of operation, may exclude them as suspects in the death of Morgan Harrington.

In my February 1, 2010, Spingola Files post, I provided a limited profile of Morgan Harrington’s killer:

“Imagine the would-be killer trolling for possible victims, which he probably has done a dozen times before. A heavy metal concert is taking place on a large college campus that is bound to produce a target rich environment of attractive co-eds — the kind of women that, in a typical social setting, would never give the killer so much as the time of day.  He is probably driving a van or an SUV with heavily tinted windows. Having run through this scenario in his head a hundred times before, he is on the lookout for the perfect victim: a woman isolated and slightly inebriated.  The perpetrator — and their may be more than one — is hoping to find a woman whose inhibitions may be numbed by naïveté and/or alcohol.  He finds this woman thumbing for a ride on Copeley Road.  As she jumps in, the driver checks his mirrors for possible witnesses, and believes he’s in the clear.”

As in the Route 29 stalker case, investigators working the Morgan Harrington investigation are likely on the lookout for potential witnesses offered rides by a probable white male suspect. The broken bones on Morgan’s body indicate a classic power and control killing. These types of suspects go through cooling off periods; however, over time, the urges to kill — propelled by their intense fantasies — rise to the surface. They garner great satisfaction in reveling in their control of the victim and the pain they have inflicted. 

In the interim, the Harrington family and investigators anxiously await the results of DNA testing from the state crime lab. “One thing we have clearly learned,” Dan Harrington told the Charlottesville Daily Progress, “is that things do not work as they do on CSI.”

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

Copyright, Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2010


Finding Morgan’s Killer

Last Friday, a Virginia man discovered the skeletal remains of a woman on his 720-acre southern Albermarle County farm.  Soon afterwards, investigators confirmed that the body was that of Morgan Harrington, a 20-year-old Virginia Tech student who went missing after leaving a Metallica concert held on the University of Virginia campus in mid-October.

Video surveillance captured Harrington between 8:20 and 9:00 p.m. on October 17 standing outside the John Paul Jones Arena prior to concert’s conclusion. Like many other commercial entertainment venues, the arena’s policy prohibits reentry. At 8:48 p.m., Harrington telephoned friends inside the arena and said she would find a ride home. Between 9:00 to 9:10 p.m., a video image captured the young woman walking through the University Hall parking lot alone. Witnesses later observed Harrington inside the Lannigan track and field parking lot.

A witness told police that a woman matching Harrington’s description was standing on the Copeley Road Bridge attempting to hitch a ride.  Standing over a set of railroad tracks, the bridge runs between University Hall and Ivy Road, a few blocks north of U.S. Highway 29. At 9:30 p.m., she was last observed standing on Copeley Road near the intersection of Ivy Road, about a block west of the bridge.

When Harrington failed to arrive home the following day, her parents reported her missing.

Personnel from the University of Virginia Police Department, the Virginia State Police and the FBI searched the area surrounding the John Paul Jones Arena.  Police later discovered Morgan Harrington’s purse and cellular telephone in parking lot between the John Paul Jones Arena, the Klockner baseball stadium and the Lannigan track and field complex. Fox News claims that investigators located one or both of these items in a trash receptacle. Prior to discarding these items, the perpetrator likely removed Harrington’s cellular telephone battery.

For the next 101 days, police continued the search for the young woman, which ended when the owner of Anchorage Farms, David Bass, observed what he thought, was the carcass of a deer lying near a fence line on his property.  Bass described this area as a pasture with tall grass. 

The tall grass likely concealed the young woman’s body until over 20 inches of snow fell in December.  The melting snow matted down the tall grass making the remains visible from atop Bass’ tractor. 

Bass points out that the body rested about a mile from the closest public road, although maps indicate that a cul-de-sac in the nearby Blandemar Farm Estates subdivision may have provided access to the dumpsite.

Criminal profiler Pat Brown told Fox News that the disposal of the body strongly suggests that Harrington’s killer is familiar with the area. In my opinion, I believe it is too soon to make such an observation. 

When trying to ascertain how a particular event occurred, it is important to reconstruct a scene that enables detectives to walk in the shoes of the perpetrator. Judging by the totality of the circumstances, as well as my training in criminal investigative analysis (more commonly known as profiling), Morgan Harrington’s killer(s) is probably a troubled individual who has fantasized about committing sexual homicide. As I noted in my e-magazine expose, The Killer in Our Midst: the Case of Milwaukee’s North Side Strangler, in many instances, these fantasies persist and grow ever stronger until the point of action. 

Here is one scenario. 

Imagine the would-be killer trolling for possible victims, which he probably has done a dozen times before. A heavy metal concert is taking place on a large college campus that is bound to produce a target rich environment of attractive co-eds — the kind of women that, in a typical social setting, would never give the killer so much as the time of day.  He is probably driving a van or an SUV with heavily tinted windows. Having run through this scenario in his head a hundred times before, he is on the lookout for the perfect victim: a woman isolated and slightly inebriated.  The perpetrator — and their may be more than one — is hoping to find a woman whose inhibitions may be numbed by naïveté and/or alcohol.  He finds this woman thumbing for a ride on Copeley Road.  As she jumps in, the driver checks his mirrors for possible witnesses, and believes he’s in the clear.

With is prey at hand, the vehicle quickly deviates from the main thoroughfare, probably an area close to the Copeley Road Bridge, with the driver explaining that he needs to pick-up a friend.  He pulls over and quickly subdues the young woman.  Soon, with the deceased woman concealed in the back of the vehicle, the killer drives to the University Hall parking lot.  He is keenly aware that investigators can track the victim’s location via the GPS chip inside her cellular telephone. He removes the battery from the victim’s phone, exits the vehicle, and deposits the items in a trash container.

This is where the killer may have slipped up.  If he waited to disengage the victim’s cell phone battery prior to entering the parking lot, investigators — armed with Harrington’s GPS information — probably learned the phone’s location and searched the nearby trash receptacles. If not, GPS will pinpoint the young woman’s location up to the point she was subdued. Regardless, if those parking lots are equipped with surveillance cameras, an image of the killer, although likely concealed, may exist.

Absent the autopsy results, one can only speculate about the cause of the death; however, an educated guess is strangulation.  If the suspect had bludgeoned or stabbed the young woman, his clothing would likely contain noticeable bloodstains. Why would the perpetrator then risk returning to the parking lot, where potential witnesses may observe signs of foul play?

Now that the perpetrator has fulfilled his fantasy, he needs to dispose of the body.  U.S. Highway 29 is just a few short blocks from the Copeley Road Bridge. The killer turns right and proceeds approximately ten miles. Continuing west on U.S. Highway 29, he either turns right on Anchorage Farm Road or proceeds to Red Hill Road.  The turn taken may very well determine if the dumpsite was preordained or random.

If the suspect dumped the body under the cloak of darkness, he probably wouldn’t take the time to carry the victim almost a mile from the end of Anchorage Farm Road. The more likely scenario is the killer drove to the area of Waldemar Drive, a cul-de-sac in the Blandermar Estates subdivision.  From there, the perpetrator probably carried the body into the tall grass.  This scenario strongly suggests that Harrington’s killer is familiar with the area.  On the other hand, if the killer drove to the end of Anchorage Farm Road and disposed of the body at the break of dawn, the dumpsite may have less significance.

A possibility exists that more than one individual is responsible for the death of Morgan Harrington, although history tells us that that most sexual killers act alone. A family Web site lists Morgan Harrington as 5-foot-6 and 120 pounds. One person could carry a person this size from the cul-da-sac to the dumpsite.  Dragging the body to the area would have matted down the tall grass that concealed the body until the December snow.

Let’s hope that the Virginia State Police obtain the evidence needed to initiate a prosecution. Sexual killers typically go through a cooling-off period. Once they taste blood, however, their fantasies continue until the urge returns to strike again. Notoriety aside, this is precisely why the crime lab should give the investigation of Morgan Harrington’s death top priority.

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

Copyright, Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2010