Families push to change how missing persons cases handled in Va.

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Morgan Harrington, Alexis Murphy, and Hannah Graham are all high profile cases of missing persons in the state, but unlike amber alerts for children or senior alerts for the elderly, there is no standard state response when an adult goes missing.

Alexis’ aunt, Trina, and Morgan’s mom, Gil, are now working with state leaders to change that.

“There needs to be a checklist to say have we thought about this, have we thought about this, and unfortunately we, right now we’re doing that by trial and error and it’s a big price to pay,” said Trina Murphy.

Murphy says search teams spent days looking for her niece’s cell phone. It wasn’t until the lead detective had the idea of using K-9’s that search for paraphernalia of inmates in jail that Alexis’ phone was found. It’s an idea she says needs to be passed along to any investigator looking for a missing person.

“One county may have some great trained dogs, or a great investigator and two counties over they don’t,” said Gil Harrington.

Harrington and Murphy say compiling a list of best practices will increase the odds of finding someone when they go missing and they’re hoping the lessons they’ve learned through their own excruciating experiences can help save a life in the future.

“To have a statewide standard template for response to these cases is such a wise, smart, plan,” said Harrington.

“Even in the best case scenario this is literally like looking for a needle in a haystack and the more resources you have and the more standardized that process is, the better chance you have of being successful,” said Murphy.

The two are hoping legislation to improve search and rescue missions is introduced in the next General Assembly session.

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