A cell phone belonging to missing Virginia teenager Alexis Tiara Murphy has been recovered, more than three weeks after Randy Allen Taylor was charged with her disappearance.
Alexis, 17, went missing Aug. 3 after she left her home in Nelson County. The FBI found her phone but is not publicly announcing where it located the device.
“Since this is an ongoing sensitive investigation, where evidentiary items and search information is sealed, no further discussion will be entertained,” the FBI said Tuesday. “This sole release of information is only being made to advise the public that we no longer need assistance looking for that one item.”
Alexis’ mother, Laura Murphy, told Richmond television station WTVR that she was relieved over the development, although it’s unclear whether the discovery means that authorities believe the missing Virginia teen may be alive. Laura Murphy said her daughter always had the phone on her.
The FBI’s search for Alexis has been assisted with a number of possible leads.
"Through community support and the media's engagement law enforcement have received several hundred calls with potential leads, which investigators diligently continue to work through,” FBI spokeswoman Dee Rybiski said in a statement.
A search for the missing Virginia teen was conducted over the weekend and included scouring the Rockfish River and other bodies of water, WUSA 9 reported.
The discovery of Alexis’ cell phone came about three weeks after the FBI arrested Taylor, 48, on abduction charges in Alexis’ disappearance.
The FBI is still urging the public to come forward with any information on Alexis or Taylor. Anyone with information was urged to call authorities at 434-263-7030.
“Specifically, investigators are requesting information from anyone who may have encountered Mr. Taylor and/or seen his vehicle just prior to and since Alexis’ disappearance on Aug. 3, 2013,” the bureau said in a statement. Taylor’s vehicle was described as a late-model GMC Suburban.
Taylor remains in police custody as authorities search for Alexis. Surveillance video from a Liberty, Va., gas station showed that Murphy and Alexis were at the station at the same time Alexis went missing, NBC Washington reported. Taylor allegedly didn’t deny to cops that he had contact with the missing teen.
The 48-year-old suspect allegedly told cops Alexis went up to 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."
Mike Hallahan, Taylor’s attorney, said the suspect and another unidentified man went to Taylor’s camper, where the men smoke and drank. Murphy was there but didn’t partake, he told NBC Washington.
The lawyer asserted that the two men then left and hadn’t seen Alexis since then.