The nearly 8-year-old mystery may finally be laid to rest.
Nearly eight years ago, Alexis Murphy, a 17-year-old Nelson County high school student went missing on August 3, 2013. About a year later, another Nelson County resident, Randy Taylor, was convicted of her murder but the body was never found. Now, the remains found last December have been confirmed by the Chief Medical Examiners Office in Richmond to be hers.
The confirmation was made on February 5, 2021; however, according to the Nelson County Sheriff's Office, "notification to the community was delayed to allow (the family) time to grieve and make proper arrangements."
Her body was found off of US-29 on Stagebridge Road in Lovingston, Virginia. Because the property where the remains were discovered is private, very little is being released at this time.
Murphy was last seen at a Liberty gas station on her way to Lynchburg, Virginia. She was on her way to get her hair done before school pictures the next day. Tammy Hitt, an assistant manager at the gas station, told The News and Advance that Randy Taylor frequented the place two to three times a week, by himself, leering at young women from his truck. Melissa Jerrell, a cashier who testified at the trial, said she saw Murphy and Taylor speaking to each other in the parking lot. Surveillance footage shows the white car Alexis was driving following Taylor's truck out of the lot and north onto the highway.
Taylor professed his innocence and never disclosed the location of Murphy's body, but he was convicted of her murder in 2014. After an extensive search of Taylor's camper and surrounding property near Lovingston, authorities found Murphy's cell phone, her blood-stained shirt, hair, a fingernail in the carpet, and a diamond stud from a piercing that had Murphy's DNA.
The car Murphy had been driving was found in a movie theatre parking lot on August 6, 2013, in Charlottesville. Security footage showed the car being driven in at 10 p.m. on August 4 although the driver could not be seen. That same evening, a bartender at a nearby Applebee's told investigators that Taylor had come into the bar around 10:30 p.m. ordered two beers, and asked for a cab back to his home in Nelson County. When being questioned by police, Taylor's story changed multiple times and he was eventually arrested and taken in.
Although Alexis Murphy had not been found at the time, Randy Taylor was charged with abduction and murder, and a jury found him guilty after six hours of deliberating. He is currently serving two life sentences and his appeal in 2015 was denied.
Now, seven years later, the case is officially closed with the discovery of Alexis Murphy's remains. Her family released a statement through the Sheriff's Office:
"Our family is so grateful for the continuing love, support and prayers for Alexis and our family over the past 7 years. While we have been grieving the loss of Alexis since 2013, we remained hopeful that she would be found alive and well. Alexis was the fashionista, athlete and joker of our family; we were blessed to have loved her for 17 years and her memory will continue to live on through us all. Our family would like to extend a heartfelt thanks and sincere gratitude to the citizens of Nelson County, the FBI, the Virginia State Police, the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office and all of the search and rescue teams for your commitment and unwavering support to find Alexis. You all kept the promise made in 2013, to bring Alexis home!
During this time, we ask that you continue to lift our family up in prayer and in the words of Alexis, 'Keep Hope Alive.'
Family of Alexis Murphy"
Have you been following the case all these years? Share your wishes and prayers for the family in the comments.