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Attorney for Alexis Murphy abduction suspect says drug dealer saw teen last

By Nadine Maeser, nmaeser@wdbj7.com
Chris Hurst, churst@wdbj7.com
Published On: Aug 11 2013 06:53:55 PM EDT
Updated On: Aug 15 2013 08:00:00 AM EDT

Randy Taylor's attorney says he was not the last person to see missing teenager, Alexis Murphy.

NELSON CO., Va. -

Randy Taylor’s attorney will ask for his client to be granted bond during a hearing next week, WDBJ7 has learned.

Taylor is expected to appear via video conference at 1 p.m. August 22 to ask for bond in Nelson County court. He’s been charged in connection to the disappearance of 17-year-old Alexis Murphy. She has not been seen since August 3.

Meanwhile, FBI agents are not at Taylor’s Nelson County home. There is crime scene tape around his home.

Also new Thursday, WDBJ7's Nadine Maeser has learned that on August 7, Judge Leyburn Mosby signed off on a court order to seal all affidavits and search warrants pertaining to Randy Taylor's case and the address of 10506 Thomas Nelson highway.

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August 14, 10:15 p.m.

WDBJ7's Chris Hurst spoke with Charlottesville attorney Mike Hallahan Wednesday night who says Randy Taylor was not the last person to be seen with missing 17-year-old Alexis Murphy; and this all centers allegedly around a marijuana deal.

Hallahan, who represents Taylor, says Murphy met Taylor at the car wash where he worked last month. Murphy noticed Taylor was smoking marijuana and they talked about it.

Then, according to Hallahan, on August 3 Murphy saw Taylor again at the Liberty gas station in Lovingston and they again talked about cannabis.

Taylor asked the teenager if she could find him a dealer. The two went to Taylor's home where a black male in his late 20s sold Taylor some weed, Hallahan says. The man and Murphy left the home and that's the last time Taylor saw the 17-year-old, he says.

The attorney says authorities have known about this man and that he drives a maroon Chevrolet Caprice Classic with after-market 22-inch rims.

He also tells WDBJ7's Chris Hurst he plans to request a bond hearing in Nelson County to force the commonwealth to present its evidence against Taylor.

It's been eleven days since Murphy was last seen.

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WDBJ7 has learned more about Randy Taylor's whereabouts the day Alexis Murphy went missing.

Video security cameras caught Taylor at an adult sex shop in Charlottesville called Ultimate Bliss.

According to Ultimate Bliss manager Kevin Bennett, Taylor came into the store on August 3 around 5 pm.

Bennett said Taylor bought two adult DVD's and paid cash for it with a $100 bill.

"I wouldn't consider him a regular, but he has been in our store a couple times," said Bennett.

Bennett also told WDBJ 7 that FBI agents knew exactly what they were looking for when they came into the store. He said investigators knew what Taylor had bought, what time he was there and how he paid for it. Bennett said they handed off their video footage to the FBI.

Murphy, 17, hasn't been seen since August 3. Her car was found August 6 in Charlottesville.

Virginia State Police re-affirmed Wednesday that there is no evidence linking Murphy's disappearance to the murder of Morgan Harrington. CLICK HERE to read CBS affiliate WTVR's story.

Harrington's mother, Gil Harrington, told WDBJ7 last week that an investigator said they didn't believe her daughter's death is linked to Murphy's disappearance. CLICK HERE to read WDBJ7's story about Gil Harrington's interview.

Morgan Harrington went missing from a Charlottesville concert in 2009. Her body was found three months later. She was from Roanoke County and went to Virginia Tech.

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Judge Kenneth Farrar appointed a new public defender for Randy Taylor late on Tuesday.

According to Nelson County Court records, Michael J. Hallahan will now represent Taylor.

Scott DeBruin was originally appointed to Taylor's case, but because of a conflict of interest he is no longer Taylor’s court-appointed attorney.

Taylor has been charged with abduction in connection to the disappearance of missing Nelson County teenager Alexis Murphy.

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Missing Nelson County teenager Alexis Murphy and abduction suspect Randy Taylor were both seen at a Lovingston gas station on the day of her disappearance, according to a Nelson County detective.

Detective Billy Mays said that Taylor and Murphy were both seen on surveillance video from the Liberty Gas station around 7 p.m. August 3. According to Mays, the two were not seen together, but they were both at the gas station on Saturday around the same time.

According to Mays, they have thoroughly searched the areas where all tips have led them. Investigators were hopeful those areas would lead them to Murphy, but she is still missing.

"We know we have our guy," Mays said. "Now it is a matter of finding Alexis."

The criminal investigation will continue until they find Murphy, Mays said.

Mays also confirmed to WDBJ7 that detectives have not located Murphy's cell phone at this point.

Earlier Tuesday, Taylor appeared in court and was appointed an attorney. He will be represented by public defender Scott DeBruin of Lynchburg. Taylor was arrested Sunday in connection to the disappearance of the 17-year-old teenager. Taylor didn't say very much at today's hearing, but he did acknowledge the charge.

Judge Kenneth Farrar said: "This is a felony and because of this charge you have the right to an attorney. If you can't afford an attorney I can appoint one for you. You also have the right to hire an attorney or you can waive these rights and have this case tried without an attorney. Do you understand what I've explained to you?"

Taylor replied: "Yes, sir."

Farrar: "Do you wish to have an attorney represent you?"

Taylor: "Yes, sir."

Murphy has not been seen since leaving her Shipman home August 3. Her car was found August 6 near Charlottesville.

Taylor is not due back in court until 10 a.m. January 9 for a preliminary hearing. He is being held without bond at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail. CLICK HERE to see a picture of Taylor in court Tuesday.

Taylor appeared in court for the hearing. He was originally supposed to appear via video conference, but there was an equipment malfunction. He wore a gray jail-issued jumpsuit. His legs were shackled and his hands were in handcuffs. Tattoos were visible on his arms and neck.

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Randy Taylor is expected to go before a judge in Nelson County at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

He's the man charged with abducting 17-year-old Alexis Murphy.

Taylor will video conference with a judge for his advisement hearing. He was arrested and charged with abduction on Sunday night by federal investigators. During this advisement hearing, Taylor will be informed of his right to an attorney.

It will all take place at the Nelson County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court since Alexis is considered a minor at the age of 17. Kenneth Farrar will be handling the hearing.

Outside of the courthouse, the search for Alexis continues. It's been 10 days now and still no sign of the missing teen.

WDBJ7 will have a camera in the courtroom. Check back soon for more updates.

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An advisement hearing for a man accused of abducting a Nelson County teenager is scheduled for Tuesday.

A hearing for Randy Taylor is scheduled in Nelson County Juvenile and Domestic Relations court at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. The hearing was moved out of General District Court because Alexis Murphy is a minor, and juvenile court has jurisdiction over offenses involving children.

Murphy, 17, has not been seen since August 3.

Taylor is still being held without bail in the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail. He will appear by video for the hearing.

The purpose of an advisement hearing is to inform Taylor of his right to be represented by an attorney. He can waive his right to a lawyer and represent himself, try to obtain a court-appointed lawyer, or hire his own lawyer to represent him.

There will be no plea or evidence heard at the hearing.

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation released a new piece of information Monday afternoon in the Alexis Murphy case.

Agents want to talk to people who may have seen suspect Randy Taylor's vehicle.  The FBI released a photo of the GMC Suburban.  Click here to see a picture of the truck.

Taylor was arrested Sunday evening and is being held on an abduction charge.  Alexis Murphy has not been found. She was last seen August 3. Her car was found August 6 in Charlottesville.

Employees at a business across Route 29 from Taylor's house said a similar vehicle was towed from Taylor's property earlier Monday. Taylor, 48, lives in the 10000 block of Thomas Nelson Highway in Lovingston. The FBI also released another picture of Taylor. CLICK HERE to see it.

Forensic teams were in and out of Taylor's home all day Monday collecting evidence and searching the surrounding wooded area.

According to neighbors who live across the street from Taylor, he moved into the home last fall. They say he kept to himself and always made sure to lock the chain at the foot of his driveway when he entered or left his home.

Investigators ask anyone with information about the vehicle or the case to call (434) 263-7050.

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The FBI and Alexis Murphy's family asked for the public's continued help in finding the missing Nelson County teenager during a news conference Monday.

Randy Allen Taylor, a suspect in Murphy's disappearance, was taken into custody Sunday afternoon without incident. Murphy has not been located.

Taylor, 48, lives on Thomas Nelson Highway in Lovingston. He is being held in the Charlottesville-Albemarle Regional Jail without bond. Murphy has not been seen since August 3. Her car was found in Charlottesville on August 6. Taylor will have an advisement hearing, but it's not clear when.

In a news conference at the Lovingston Fire Department on Monday, the FBI said it is still looking for more information about Taylor. Investigators say he was driving a late-model GMC suburban-like truck, with Virginia license plates. CLICK HERE to see Taylor's booking photo.

“We are also looking for any information the public may have regarding suspect Randy Taylor, prior to the disappearance on August 3, and anything regarding his activities and involvements that might prove helpful to this investigation,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Jeff Mazanec said.

Mazanec said investigators are looking at connections to other disappearances in the area. According to the Charlottesville publication The Hook, Taylor was questioned about the 2010 disappearance of Samantha Clarke from the Town of Orange. Click here to read The Hook’s story.

“I know there is some speculation that this case may be connected to other similar disappearances or abductions in the region,” Mazanec said. “We are certainly looking at all possibilities and information in this regard. However, we are not prepared to discuss this at the present time. And our focus here today is to bring attention to Alexis’ disappearance."

Murphy, 17, will be a senior at Nelson County High School. Students started school Monday in Nelson County. Through tears, Murphy’s mother asked for the public’s help in finding her daughter.

“If anyone knows anything knows anything about Alexis, I want her to come home because today would have been her first day of school,” Laura Murphy said. “I carried my younger son to school this morning, but I didn’t have a daughter to take. If anybody knows anything, please, please let us know. Please.” CLICK HERE to see Laura Murphy's plea for help.

The FBI and Nelson County Commonwealth's Attorney Anthony Martin vowed to continue looking for Murphy.

"We continue to hope that Alexis will be found safe and returned to her family," Martin said. "I want to assure her family and the Nelson County community that we will keep looking as long as it takes to find her."

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According to the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail, Randy Allen Taylor is being held on an abduction charge out of Nelson County.

Taylor, 48, is being held without bail. CLICK HERE to see Taylor's booking photo.

He is scheduled to be in court Wednesday.

FBI agents are searching a neighborhood on Country Lane in the Lovingston area of Nelson County. Country Lane is off Route 29. A neighbor tells WDBJ7's Nadine Maeser that FBI agents have been searching the area since Saturday.

The FBI will hold a news conference regarding the disappearance of Alexis Murphy at 11:30 a.m. Monday. CLICK HERE to watch the 11:30 a.m. news conference live.

The news conference will be at the Lovingston fire station.

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Police still searching home off of Route 29 in Nelson County as of 3:30 a.m. Live report coming up on WDBJ7 Mornin' at 5:00.

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Law enforcement has made an arrest in Alexis Murphy's disappearance.

They're not saying who the person is, where the person was arrested, or the well-being of Murphy. The Nelson County teenager has been missing since August 3. She told friends she was headed to Lynchburg. Her car was found in Charlottesville on Tuesday night.

We'll update you as soon as we get more information.

Here's the release from the Federal Bureau of Investigation:

Commonwealth Attorney of Nelson County, Anthony Martin; Sheriff David Brooks, Nelson County, Virginia Sheriff’s Office; Colonel Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police; and Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Jeffrey Mazanec, Federal Bureau of Investigation announce an arrest in the Alexis Murphy investigation.

This evening, an individual was taken into custody and charged with Abduction in the disappearance of Alexis Tiara Murphy. This remains an on-going investigation and law enforcement continues to request the public’s assistance as they show pictures and conduct interviews and searches.

For the continuing advancement of this sensitive investigation, the suspect’s name is not being released at this time. Additional information will be released at the appropriate time.