Police probe Va. teen's disappearance; suspect claims innocence

CNN
Saturday, August 17, 2013 - 8:00am

 Alexis Murphy was last seen at a gas station earlier this month, and though police have arrested a suspect in her abduction, his attorney tells a CNN affiliate his client split ways with the 17-year-old after a drug deal.

Her disappearance set off a search that extended for 30 miles outside of Lovingston, Virginia, and involved helicopters, search parties with canine units, the Nelson County Sheriff's Office, Virginia State Police and FBI.

Alexis left her Shipman, Virginia, home to visit Lynchburg on August 3, and police have surveillance video showing her at a Lovingston gas station, according to affiliate WVIR-TV in Charlottesville.

Randy Taylor, 48, was seen on the video and was arrested in her abduction Sunday, police told CNN affiliate WRC-TV, but Taylor's attorney, Michael Hallahan, told WVIR that Taylor was arrested because they found one of Alexis' hairs in his camper.

The attorney also told WVIR his client wasn't the last person to see Alexis and that police need to be looking for a "black male, mid- to late-20s, cornrows and a 20-year-old burgundy Caprice with 22-inch wheels."

Taylor saw the girl the night she disappeared, the lawyer said. They were both parked at the gas pumps, and Alexis made a reference to smoking marijuana, Hallahan said. Taylor told her he'd like some marijuana, the attorney said.

"She said, 'I know a guy.' She told him to meet at another location in Lovingston and they rode up there in both cars," the lawyer told the station.

That "guy," Alexis and Taylor all took separate cars to Taylor's camper in Lovingston, where Taylor bought $60 worth of marijuana. The men smoked and drank together, but Murphy did not, the attorney said.

Alexis and the unidentified man left before sundown, and that was the last Taylor saw of either of them, Hallahan told WVIR.

Hallahan further told the station there is DNA evidence of the unidentified man in the form of a 12-ounce Icehouse bottle in the camper.

Alexis was last seen wearing a pink blouse, floral spandex pants and brown boots, according to WRC. She was carrying a gray purse. Her 2003 Nissan Maxima was found August 6 in the parking lot of a movie theater near Charlottesville.

The teen's aunt described her as a "girly girl" and told WVIR that the volleyball player had just taken her senior pictures and was looking at colleges.

"She was just looking forward to everything, excited for everything, and for this to happen is just completely out of character for her," Taylor told the station.
 

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