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Police are continuing their search of "several locations" for the missing teen.
Randy Allen Taylor
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
LOVINGSTON — A Nelson County man charged with abduction in the disappearance of 17-year-old Alexis Murphy made his first appearance in court Tuesday while investigators continued their search — now in its 10th day — for the teenager.
Randy Allen Taylor, 48, requested court-appointed counsel during the brief hearing, held in Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court because of Murphy’s age.
Also Tuesday, Nelson County sheriff’s Investigator Billy Mays confirmed Murphy and Taylor were both seen at the Liberty gas station on U.S. 29 in Lovingston at about 7 p.m. Aug. 3, but they did not appear to have been together.
Murphy was last seen on surveillance video at the gas station, after leaving her Shipman home with plans to go to Lynchburg.
Taylor sat quietly in court Tuesday, cuffed at the wrists and clad in a gray-striped jumpsuit as a judge advised him of his right to an attorney.
Charlottesville defense attorney Mike Hallahan confirmed Tuesday night he had been appointed to represent Taylor, after Judge Kenneth Farrar initially appointed Lynchburg attorney Scott DeBruin.
A preliminary hearing on the single charge was set for Jan. 9, at which point a judge will decide whether to certify the charges to the grand jury.
Taylor, who was arrested Sunday, initially was supposed to be advised via videoconference from the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail. But Commonwealth’s Attorney Anthony Martin said Farrar decided to have Taylor appear in person because of some technical issues with video equipment.
Nelson County Circuit Court clerks said Tuesday search warrants in the case remain sealed and they were unsure whether affidavits — statements outlining the evidence that investigators recover while executing search warrants — had been returned to the clerk’s office.
Local, state and federal law enforcement have remained tight-lipped about the investigation. Mays declined to name specifically where authorities searched Tuesday, but said investigators were continuing to follow tips and had been searching “several locations.” Mays said he was in the Charlottesville area, and some investigators remained near Taylor’s house on U.S. 29 just north of Lovingston.
“Not a lot that I can comment on has changed,” he said.
He declined to discuss evidence collected in the investigation, statements made by tipsters or Taylor and whether authorities anticipated making additional arrests in the case.
State police have spoken with the families of Morgan Harrington, who disappeared outside John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville in 2009, and Alicia Showalter Reynolds, who disappeared in 1996, state police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said.
Investigators look for similarities and possible relations among cases when someone is abducted, she explained.
“That is not uncommon for us to do that,” Geller said.
As of Tuesday, authorities had not found evidence connecting Murphy’s case to other unsolved disappearances.
In 2009, Harrington, then a 20-year-old Virginia Tech student from Roanoke County, disappeared from a Metallica concert outside John Paul Jones Arena. Her remains were discovered at an Albemarle County farm about a year later.
Reynolds was abducted from Culpeper County on March 2, 1996, on U.S. 29 en route from Baltimore to Charlottesville. Two months later, her remains were found in the Lignum area of that county.
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