NELSON COUNTY, Va. -- A man jailed in the case of missing Virginia teen Alexis Murphy has been indicted on first-degree murder charges, reports CBS affiliate WTVR.
17-year-old Alexis Murphy tweeted “Burg Bound” to her more than 11,000 Twitter followers before vanishing in August, reported CBS affiliate WUSA9. Investigators have said she was on her way to go shopping in Lynchburg, Va. She was last seen August 3 at a gas station in Lovingston, about 30 miles from Lynchburg, and her car was found three days later in Charlottesville.
Randy Allen Taylor, 48, of Lovingston, is already jailed and charged with abduction in connection with Murphy’s disappearance. Taylor was also seen at the gas station the evening of Murphy’s disappearance.
A special grand jury returned a first-degree murder indictment against Taylor on Friday, WTVR reports. The grand jury also reportedly indicted Taylor on first-degree felony murder and abduction with intent to defile charges and a charge of grand larceny unrelated to the Murphy case.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Anthony Martin reportedly made the announcement in a press conference Monday as Murphy’s parents stood by. Murphy remains missing.
"The return of indictments only means that the Grand Jury found that probable cause exists for the charges I mentioned and that Randy Taylor should go on trial for those charges," Martin said Monday. "The defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."
A lawyer for Taylor told WTVR in August that Taylor admitting to being with Murphy the night she vanished, but maintained his innocence, saying Murphy’s disappearance may be linked to a drug deal.
The lawyer, Michael Hallahan, alleged that Taylor ran into the 17-year-old at the gas station, CBS affiliate WTVR reports, and said Taylor asked the teen if she could find him a drug dealer.
Hallahan said that the night Murphy vanished the 17-year-old was at Taylor's camper with another man. The lawyer said Taylor bought marijuana from the man and smoked it with him, and that the two left in separate cars, reports the station.
After finding a strand of Murphy's hair in Taylor's camper eight days after she was last seen, authorities arrested him on an abduction charge, Hallahan told the station.
Now newly charged with murder, Taylor is reportedly due in a Virginia court Monday afternoon.
Orange County, Va. Commonwealth Attorney Diana H. Wheeler told WTVR in August that Taylor was a person of interest in the case of missing teenager Samantha Ann Clarke, 19, who vanished in September of 2010.
"There was a bit of contact between him and Samantha Clarke in the days immediately preceding her disappearance," Wheeler told WTVR. "He was one of a number of people she had been having contact with."
Wheeler emphasized that Taylor was never charged in connection with Clarke's disappearance.
Clarke lived in Orange County, Va., about an hour and half drive from Murphy. Authorities reportedly said Clarke told her brother "I'll be back," but never returned.
"I know there is some speculation that this case may be connected to other, similar disappearances or abductions in the region," FBI Special Agent Jeff Mazanec said in an August press conference. "We are certainly looking at all possibilities and information in this regard."
Taylor is being held without bond at the Charlottesville-Albemarle Regional Jail.