Abduction Suspect Through Lawyer: I Wasn't Last to See Alexis Murphy

Alexis Murphy, 17, last seen Aug. 3

After investigators spent hours combing through Randy Taylor's property for clues Wednesday in the disappearance of a 17-year-old girl, Taylor's lawyer said his client wasn't the last person to see the missing teen.

Alexis Tiara Murphy was reported missing Aug. 3. She has not been seen since she was glimpsed on surveillance video at a gas station in Lovingston, Va.

Investigators have mounted a massive search for Alexis or for any information about her disappearance.

Taylor, 48, was arrested and charged with her abduction Sunday. Investigators confirmed that Taylor was seen on surveillance video at the same Liberty gas station at the same time as Murphy.

Taylor's attorney, Mike Hallahan, told NBC29 in Charlottesville his client was not the last person to see Murphy that day. He said while he and Murphy were parked at the gas pumps that day, she approached him and "made a comment to him about smoking marijuana based on her seeing him at another car wash in Lovingston weeks or a month before that." 

Hallahan told NBC29 the teen then told Taylor she "knew a guy" and told him to follow her in his car to arrange a drug deal with a third individual.

The lawyer said Taylor, Murphy and another man -- described by Hallahan as a black man in his mid to late 20s -- went back to Taylor's camper in Lovingston. The two men smoked and drank, while Murphy did neither, the lawyer said.

Hallahan said Murphy and the other man left at the same time in separate cars, and that was the last Taylor saw of them. The lawyer told NBC29 law enforcement found a hair belonging to Murphy in Taylor's car.

"I would like to be with [Taylor], one-on-one, ask him, 'Where is she? I know you know,'" Murphy's mother told News4.

Alexis Murphy's family last saw her when she left their home Aug. 3. She was wearing a pink blouse, floral spandex pants and brown boots, and carrying a gray purse. An aunt said she planned to travel south to Lynchburg that day.

Her car, a 2003 Nissan Maxima, was found three days later in the parking lot of a movie theater near Charlottesville, more than 35 miles northeast of Lovingston.

The following day, more than 50 law enforcement officials converged on the area, searching for her by ground and helicopter. That was more than a week ago.

"I want to assure her family and the Nelson County community that we will keep looking as long as it takes to find her," said Nelson County Commonwealth's Attorney Anthony Martin.

Taylor was arrested Sunday and charged with abduction by force, a felony. He appeared in court Tuesday -- handcuffed, shackled and wearing a gray jail-issued jumpsuit -- where he was appointed a public defender.

He is being held at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail.

The Daily Progress reported that court records show that Taylor's criminal record stretches back more than 20 years.

Virginia Beach court records show Taylor was convicted of statutory burglary and grand larceny in 1992 and sentenced to 10 years behind bars, with all but 4 1/2 years suspended.

He was convicted of arson in February 2005 and was given a two-year suspended sentence, Albemarle County court records show. His suspended sentence was revoked in June 2011, after he failed to pay $6,300 restitution. His sentence was immediately re-suspended on conditions of good behavior and the requirement that he pay at least $50 a month.

An employer and acquaintance of Taylor's described him as a quiet and hardworking.

“We knew he had a past, because he'd been honest with us," said Tere Vann, Taylor's employer at the Ruckersville car lot, where Taylor has worked off and on for the past five years.

Neighbor Jim Matheny watched from his front porch as FBI agents searched Taylor's property Monday. “I would've never dreamed it,” Matheny told the Daily Progress.

Investigators combed the area near Taylor's home Monday while carrying shovels, and hauled away a camoflauge-print GMC Suburban and a camper.

Among those at Taylor's home Monday was Evans Oakerson, the lead investigator in the September 2010 disappearance of 19-year-old Samantha Clarke of Orange, Va.

Like Murphy, Clarke went out one night and never came back. Both teens had mothers who worked overnight.

In an article published last year at ReadtheHook.com, Taylor defended himself to the website and claimed police harassment. "The case needs to be solved," he said, "but the way they're going about it is ridiculous."

Authorities said Taylor called Clarke at least five times in the hours before she went missing, ReadtheHook.com reported.

During a news conference at the Lovingston Fire Department earlier this week, Jeff Mazanec, special agent in charge of the FBI's Richmond Division, addressed speculation on similar cases in the region, saying officials are "certainly looking at all possibilities."


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