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Coming together to ‘Help Save The Next Girl’

South Boston News
Gil Harrington, mother of murdered Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington, visited South Boston to participate in a “Help Save The Next Girl” rally Saturday at Wal-Mart. She was joined by Diane Brown, sister of Hattie Brown, who has been missing for more than five years. (SOMcL photo)
SoVaNow.com / June 09, 2014


Two women — one the mother of a murdered college student, the other the sister of long-missing Halifax County resident Hattie Gertrude Brown — led a rally Saturday at Wal-Mart to “Help Save The Next Girl.”

The event — held beneath colorful tents set up in the Wal-Mart parking lot, where attendees enjoyed music and snacked on popsicles and chili — was organized by “Help Save The Next Girl”, a non-profit foundation with a declared mission to “sensitize young women and girls to predatory danger” arising from violent acts against women.

The organization was founded by Dan and Gil Harrington, parents of Morgan Dana Harrington, a Virginia Tech student who was murdered after attending a Charlotttesville concert in 2009. No suspects were ever named in the case.

For the South Boston rally, Gil Harrington traveled to town from her home in the Roanoke area. She was joined at the local Wal-Mart by Diane Brown, a retired sherriff’s deputy and sister of Hattie Gertrude Brown, who has been missing for five years.

Brown’s unresolved fate shadowed what was otherwise a party-like atmosphere at the rally. The event also highlighted the story of another missing Halifax County woman: Wendy Dawn Beadles, who was last seen by family members in June 2012.

The families of both women continue to hope that someone, somewhere may remember something that could lead law enforcement officers to move forward with their investigations and reveal the full stories behind the disappearance of the two.

On Saturday, members of the Halifax County Sheriff’s Department, South Boston Police Department, South Boston Fire Department and Rescue Squad, along with Commonwealth’s Attorney Tracy Quackenbush Martin, turned out to show their support for the cause of “saving the next girl.”

In explaining the purpose of the Help Save The Next Girl foundation, Dan and Gil Harrington have stated, “We believe that a positive legacy for Morgan must include our commitment to keep other young women safe. Morgan was smart and beautiful, looking forward to becoming a teacher. She was excited to offer her enthusiasm to children and to service organizations. In her honor, we move forward.”

Several chapters of the organization have been formed, beginning with one at Virginia Tech, to carry on the work of protecting women from predatory violence.

Halifax County Sheriff Fred Clark, who participated in Saturday’s rally, said he was unaware of any new information that has come forth as a result of Saturday’s rally, but he said he remains hopeful that new details may emerge in the ongoing investigations into the disappearances of Hattie Brown and Wendy Dawn Beadles.



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