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UPDATED: Friends hold vigil for missing Virginia Tech student

October 19, 2009

It's been six days since Morgan Harrington disappeared from a Metallica concert in Charlottesville.

Thursday night, Morgan's friends came out to Northside High School to show support for her safe return.

There were a lot hugs and tears, but also some encouraging, bittersweet laughter.

Since middle school, Morgan Harrington has been a part of a tight-knit group of girls.

They organized the vigil for their friend, and shed some light on the kind of young woman she is.

And even in her absence, she was making people giggle through their tears.

At Morgan Harrington's vigil Thursday evening, it was clear, she means a lot to a lot of people.

The reverend of her church spoke.

"This is a time that we can wrap our hearts around," says Reverend Diane Scribner.

Heart-felt stories of Morgan from her eight best friends.

"All of us who care so much about her," says friend Chelsea Helm.

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They ranged from when she was little.

"The loudest scream that a five-year-old, blond haired, blue-eyed kindergartner could let out from the opposite side of the playground," says Morgan's friend.

Until the last day she was seen.

"First thing she'd do is flip down the visor and check her lipstick, once she's got that ok, she puts the visor back up and as she's pulling out of the driveway, those fingers are flashing 2, 4, 1," says her mother, Gil Harrington.

2,4,1 is family lingo, that was shared Thursday night through a seven dot formation. The family's way of saying I love you.

"I love you too much, forever, one more time," says Morgan's Mom.

On car windows, on the pavement, on purple t-shirts, the family's special symbol, opened up to the extended family.

"I just don't think this should have happened. I think it's weird, I think she's too nice," says friend Katie Hicks.

"Very, very down to earth and very loving," says friend, Diane Kelly.

Purple balloons were released at the end of the ceremony.

Her family also announced that the colleagues of her father donated $100,000 to the reward fund.

State Police haven't confirmed details about the reward, but say tips keep coming in.

UPDATED 8:40 P.M. Thursday

Family and friends of Morgan Harrington held a vigil Thursday night at Northside High School in Roanoke County.

During the vigil, Harrington's father, Dr. Dan Harrington, announced that family and friends have raised $100,000 for a reward. 

State Police say they are still finalizing legal aspects and details related to a reward offering and have not confirmed a specific amount.

Twenty-year-old Morgan Dana Harrington of Roanoke County went missing Saturday night at a concert at the John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville. 

We will have more on the vigil tonight on News7 at 10 and 11.

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UPDATED 10:37 p.m. Wednesday

As family and friends hope and pray, police continue to look for anything that will lead them to Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington.

Police say the 20-year-old last spoke to her friends by phone at about 8:30 Saturday night when she couldn't get back into a concert at UVA's John Paul Jones arena.

This afternoon police were searching by air and by land, looking for any clues and besides Morgan's purse which was found Sunday morning, police say they haven't found a thing.

"We have a purse and we have a cell phone and missing girl, those are the facts," says Lt. Joe Rader with the Virginia State Police.

Police said there wouldn't be any revelations, but Wednesday's press conference did help shed some light on the night that Morgan Harrington was last seen.

"We've checked nearby surveillance cameras of the arena and many, many, many others, none of that assisted us at this time," says Lt. Rader.

What's known for sure is Morgan called her friends from outside the arena about 8:30 Saturday night.

Police say the last confirmed sighting of Harrington came about an hour later.

"We do not know at this point what happened to Morgan. Whether she's on or off grounds. We think we've searched rather extensively, not turned up clues."

A passerby found Morgan's purse early Sunday morning in a parking lot between the arena and the athletic fields. Police say there was no sign of struggle.

And, Lt. Joe Rader of the state police says friends knew they would NOT be meeting up with Morgan after the concert.

"Everything we have is consistent with they were aware they may not meet up with her after the concert and friends were aware that because they did not meet up with her after the concert, there was no need for immediate alarm," says Lt. Rader.

Since a press conference on Monday afternoon. Police say they've had more than 100 tips.

They're calling 20 percent of those leads that had to be followed immediately.

Police say a reward is in the works through Crimestoppers.

It expected to be in the neighborhood of $50,000 dollars.

Wednesday 3:38 p.m.

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