Dozens of searchers roamed parts of Nelson County on Sunday in the ongoing search for missing Shipman teenager Alexis Murphy, eight weeks after she was last seen at a gas station in Lovingston.
Investigator Billy Mays, of the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office, said the search was just wrapping up when reached by phone shortly after 6 p.m. It started at 8 a.m. Sunday and included 50 personnel and about a dozen search dogs, he said.
He declined to describe the “nuts [and] bolts” of the specific areas targeted but said they did include places that had been searched previously in recent weeks. Mays referred to those areas as “places of interest” and said some were revisited to “make sure nothing has been left out” in the ongoing investigation.
Mays confirmed one of the places investigators returned to was property belonging to suspect Randy Allen Taylor, of Lovingston.
Last week, a grand jury in Nelson County Circuit Court indicted Taylor, 48, on one count of abduction in the disappearance of 17-year-old Murphy, according to a news release from Nelson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Anthony Martin.
Taylor was arrested Aug. 11.
Alexis, a rising senior and volleyball standout at Nelson County High School, was last seen Aug. 3.
Her family believed she was driving to Lynchburg for back-to-school shopping that night. She was seen last at the Liberty gas station in Lovingston, and her car was found three days later in a movie theater parking lot in Charlottesville.
Mays said no new clues or tips prompted the search Sunday. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Virginia State Police are helping county deputies in the search; Mays said because it takes time to coordinate the groups, further searches probably would not take place this week.
Angela Taylor, Alexis’ aunt and a spokesperson for her family, said the family was aware of the resumed search Sunday.
She said the family sees the efforts as a positive sign law enforcement is not giving up on the search and working the case until Alexis is located.
The family is taking it one day at a time and clinging to faith, Taylor said.
“There’s not a day or second that goes by that we don’t think of Alexis and want her back,” she said.
She said the outpouring from the community has been an encouragement during the stressful time.
Alexis’s loved ones are as determined as investigators, she added.
“We’re not going to give up as a family until she is found and brought home,” she said. “She’s on everybody’s hearts and minds.”
Contact Justin Faulconer at (434) 385-5556 or firstname.lastname@example.org.