Posts tagged “Steven Spingola

Update: New Spingola Files Book Now Available

If you own a Kindle, an i-Phone, an i-Pad, an Android, a Mac or a PC, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You is now available for purchase exclusively at  Simply download the Kindle app to any of these devices and click this link:

Readers will get my take on a killer drifter, the details of the homicide investigation of two young Milwaukee girls, the guilty verdict of Drew Peterson, an examination of the emerging American surveillance state, as well as 36 additional articles of criminal justice import.

Within 24 hours after the book’s release, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You debuted at #5 on’s criminal procedure list and ranked #15 on Amazon’s list of “hot new releases.”

Kindle gift cards are available at Give the gift of reading this Christmas!


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. I, is available at

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© Steven Spingola,Wales, WI, 2012

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.”


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