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Discovery Of VA Woman's Remains Brings Tips

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By STEVE SZKOTAK Associated Press Writer

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) The discovery of Morgan Harrington's remains triggered a surge in credible tips to investigators seeking answers to the Virginia Tech student's disappearance and death three months ago, her parents said Friday.

Gil and Dan Harrington also said "a wealth of physical evidence" has been collected in the remote hayfield 10 miles southwest of Charlottesville where a farmer found their daughter's bones Tuesday.

"I think people are starting to come out of the woodwork and people who are in jail are trying to broker information for privileges or time or advantages for them," Gil Harrington said.

A spokeswoman for the Virginia State Police confirmed investigators have "received numerous tips" since the remains were discovered and are assessing them. Corinne Geller said she could not comment on evidence.

Morgan Harrington, 20, had been the focus of an intense search since she became separated from friends Oct. 17 while attending a Metallica concert at an arena at the University of Virginia.

A coroner has not determined the cause of her death.

The Harringtons, who are convinced their daughter was abducted and slain, devoted their energies the past three months to finding Morgan. They created a website, organized searches, distributed posters and put up highway billboards with her image.

Now they are attempting to cultivate more support and awareness of the problem of missing adults. They met with Virginia's two U.S. senators and other legislators last week and are seeking public funding for the National Center for Missing Adults.

The Harringtons, he's a doctor, she's a nurse, said they didn't know what to do or where to turn after they learned of their daughter's disappearance.

They were told, for instance, that once someone is reported missing their possessions should not be disturbed, to ensure investigators can examine belongings that have not been tampered with.

"Someone should tell the parents: Close the bedroom door, do not touch anything of that individual, because police are going to need that stuff," Dan Harrington said. "We're sleeping in her bed because we're crying and contaminated things that can be used for dogs and searches."

The search for Harrington stirred intense interest, even surprising the Roanoke couple.

"The kindness we have received has been unbelievable," Dan Harrington said.

But some elements in the media and on the Internet has also disturbed the couple, particularly suggestions that their daughter's attire or behavior was somehow responsible for her suspected abduction and death.

"No matter what Morgan did, she deserved to be safe walking the streets of Charlottesville, the streets of the University of Virginia, so those comments really, really made me angry," Dan Harrington said.

Their public activism, they said, is counter to their private nature. Their advocacy, they said, is intended to keep interest in the case alive, and to honor their daughter.

"We want to be able to show how you get through tragedy, and how you can be public about that and maybe help people," Dan Harrington said. "Secondly, Morgan had short life of 20 years. She should not be forgotten."

In keeping with that wish, they are establishing a scholarship fund in her memory at the new Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute in Roanoke, which accepts its first class this year, and with Omni Orphan Medical Network International, which provides medical care in Africa and elsewhere.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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