With the current suspect in the disappearance of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham now “forensically tied” to the disappearance and murder of Virginia Tech co-ed Morgan Harrington during her visit to a rock concert in Charlottesville five years ago, many residents of that city now wonder if a serial killer has been among them for years.
And one wonders how many other disappearances of young, attractive women in Central Virginia might be connected to these two cases?
Coverage of crime and court cases for the past half-century have exposed too many cases of horrid behavior by those who live among us. Even a rural area like Floyd County is populated by sexual predators, child pornographers and deviants who prey on grandchildren and relatives.
Currently, 27 men and women from Floyd occupy the Virginia Sexual Offenders database. Many of those who names and photos appear committed horrendous acts against children — many of them relatives.
“I loved my granddaughter,” said one Floyd County man in his defense before admitting taking indecent liberties with children in 2005. “I guess I just loved her too much.” I’m not publishing his name here not to protect him but to protect his granddaughter.
I sat in the courtroom in another case later that year and heard another grandfather defend his grandson’s sexual attack on his sister as “just being a normal boy dealing with his hormones.”
Last year, a Floyd County resident who killed his daughter testified he thought she was possessed by the devil.
So many of these deviants, we later learned, arranged loans for our farms, worked on our cars and coached our children at school. The man charged in the Hannah Graham and now tied to the murder of Morgan Harrington case was a medical technician at the University of Virginia Medical Center and a volunteer coach at a Charlottesville area school.
How many others like them are still out there and how many do we know?
The problem is that we don’t know the answers to either question.
And that should scare the hell out of all of us.