Man indicted on murder charge, teen Alexis Murphy still missing

NELSON COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) – A special grand jury returned a first degree murder indictment against the man accused in the disappearance of Alexis Murphy, Nelson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Anthony Martin announced Monday.

Murphy’s parents stood behind Martin during the announcement. The 17-year-old Nelson County girl is still missing.

A grand jury indicted Randy Taylor on the following charges:

  1. First Degree Murder (of Alexis Murphy)
  2. First Degree Felony Murder (murder of Alexis Murphy during commission of a felony)
  3. Abduction (of Alexis Murphy) with Intent to Defile
  4. Grand Larceny (unrelated to Alexis Murphy case)

“The return of the 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.

Due to a gag order placed on this case, no one is allowed comment about the case.

During a Monday afternoon hearing, previous charges against Taylor were nolle prossed and a trial date of May 1 was set for the murder charges. The trial is expected to last two weeks.

“Each of the two charges are punishable by a maximum of life in prison,” CBS 6 legal expert Todd Stone said.

Stone said if Murphy’s body is not found, the prosecutor must use circumstantial evidence that she was killed and that Taylor’s conduct caused the death.

“It is much more difficult to prove a murder case when there is no body, but it can be done,” Stone said. “In cases where a body is found, the medical examiner performs an autopsy and testifies about the cause of death and that is normally very helpful for the prosecutor. In this case, it will need to be proven with other evidence.”

Taylor was arrested less than two weeks after Murphy’s Aug. 3 disappearance. The 17-year-old girl, who is still missing, was last seen in surveillance photos at a gas station in Lovingston.  Taylor was also seen at that gas station, talking to Murphy.

Taylor is being held without bond at the Charlottesville-Albemarle Regional Jail.

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21 comments

  • Glen Allen

    I guess the Commonwealth Attorney will explain what happened to the suspect’s right to a speedy trial at this news conference. I am not sticking up for the suspect, however if he is found innocent, the authorities might then move on with the investigation from a different angle.

    • athynz

      There are still too many unanswered questions – Everything is entirely circumstantial and yet they have pursued Taylor as the only likely suspect from the beginning. I sincerely hope they have the right man but I have this feeling they do not.

  • PCNews

    Odd, how Governments today seek a Media announcement before their announcements. Anticipation builds, tension mounts. Drumroll, please.

  • DowntownWorker

    This guy has been in their custody for, what, 5 months? And they still haven’t located her. That confirms to me that he isn’t the one.

    • SirRantsAlot

      I am curious to understand how your logic works. He has been in custody since August, 2 weeks *after* her disappearance, and since she has not been found since then, you think that somehow vindicates him?? Explain that to us….

  • Manalishi

    This case has had serious flaws from day 1. If the charges are dropped or the case is lost, there should be a thorough investigation of the commonwealths attorney.

  • Pam McCall

    I hope the young lady is still alive, but i thought you had to have a body in order to convict someone of murder? my thoughts and prayers go out to the young girls family!

    • meggemann

      No, Ma’am… it is not an absolute requirement that a body be evident to prosecute a charge of murder. In fact, there have been 10 “no-body” murder trials in Virginia, with 7 out of 10 resulting in a murder conviction. The standard of proof, is beyond a reasonable doubt. If other physical and circumstantial evidence supports the charge to a convincing degree, then a guilty verdict may be found.

      • Randy

        With no body… That is a standard. It leaves reasonable doubt not only that he may not have killed her – but that she is even dead. Whoever loses a case on murder w no body us an idiot and should have a bar complaint file against them

    • Larry Lanberg

      Romaine, they’re going for the murder charge because they knew time was running out on proving the abduction charge. So, basically, the C.A. thought: well, I can at least hold him longer by getting a grand jury to agree on “probable cause”. for murder. I don’t the (lack of) evidence has changed. It’s all a game — and very un-American one at that.

  • Clay Morrow

    They have to prove she is dead to convict him of murder. I am sure he knows something, they must be using this to get him to tell what he knows. I can only recall two murder convictions in Virginia the past fifty years without a body. One guy is out after serving a few years for killing a little girl in Charlottesville and has been a suspect in two in Richmond, and the other killed a Radford student and is rotting in Buckingham Prison.

    • Larry Lanberg

      Manalishi, could be, possibly. But what’s also likely is the ‘throwing spaghetti at wall’ tactic — something might stick. Think about it: if they had that much evidence they’d know where she’s at.

      • Manalishi

        Which brings us back to the obvious flaws. Our system is finished if we start conducting trials based on circumstantial evidence. I want to know that if the young lady is a victim of foul, the perp gets a Fair trail and a Fair hanging. Your spaghetti point is scary, yet all too common these days.

      • athynz

        The “throw spaghetti against the wall” mode of conviction is both too common and scary. What is even more chilling is that there are people who accept this with no questions.

  • Jim

    I too, am scratching my head. They must have FACTS to PROVE he killed her or else WE would all be in trouble. What’s next? Someone disappears and random people are held accountable? Blood? DNA? Confession? Or just a “hunch”?

  • johnny

    the other charges are there if murder cannot be proven?I assume this guy was offered something to tell where she is if he knows.How they held him this long,who knows

  • ho ho

    This is gonna be another guy free because the CA is’nt interested in justice just convictions.hope this one sinks him.

  • M.L. Adams

    They have a real hard row to hoe, here! Only evidence they really have is that he talked to her in the service station? And another young, black girl was kidnapped and murdered…30 miles away…while Taylor was in custody? If I were on a jury, I’d have to consider that to be ‘reasonable doubt!’

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