Alexis Tiara Murphy was seemingly a happy and bubbly 17-year-old in August of 2013. She was in her last year of high school and had plans to go to college. She was a volleyball player with a solid social life consisting of many friends.
Alexis’ Last Day
On August 3, 2013, Alexis planned to travel from her home in Shipman, Virginia, to Lynchburg, which was about 20 minutes away. Her mother, Laura, gave Alexis some money for hair extensions and watched her leave home in her dad’s white 2003 Nissan Maxima for the last time.
When Alexis did not return by midnight, her grandmother knew something was wrong. She had a curfew that she stuck to. When Laura called Alexis’ father to discuss the fact that she failed to return, he recommended she call the cops immediately.
The Discovery of the Vehicle
Three days later, the white Nissan was found in the parking lot of a Charlottesville movie theater. It had been abandoned the night after Alexis was reported missing, but cameras failed to capture who was behind the wheel.
Gas station cameras captured Alexis at a gas station in Lovingston. It was a common hangout for teens. Cameras there captured a man holding a door open for Alexis. The man had a large neck tattoo and he was driving a camouflage Chevrolet Suburban. Film showed Alexis following his vehicle in hers.
Finding a Suspect
Investigators had another tool at their disposal: cell phone pings. They led investigators to an abandoned property along Route 29. The shrubbery on the land was overgrown, taking over the old house. But that wasn’t the only thing hidden. On the land authorities found a camouflage Suburban and a camper belonging to a 48-year-old man named Randy Taylor.
Inside the camper, officers got to work looking for signs Alexis had been inside. They found them: an earring, a fingernail, and a long hair. DNA testing confirmed that all three pieces were consistent with Alexis’ DNA.
Randy Taylor claimed that Alexis and a black man with dreadlocks came to his camper to buy drugs. All three apparently had some beers and then the two left. When authorities caught up with the man, he had a solid alibi and claimed he never even met Randy.
With this information in mind, investigators returned to the camper for some more evidence. Under the couch, they found a bloody shirt matching Alexis’ DNA, black hair extensions, and fake eyelashes.
On May 1, 2014, Randy’s trial began. He pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder, first-degree felony murder, and abduction with intent to defile.
On May 8, Randy was found guilty. At his sentencing hearing, he claimed he would reveal the location of Alexis’ body in exchange for a shorter sentence. His offer was declined. He was sentenced to two life sentences in prison.
If alive, Alexis would be 22 years old today. Her body has not been found, but Randy Taylor remains in prison for her murder. She is presumed dead. Additionally, Randy is a potential suspect in the Samantha Clarke disappearance.