Talaija Dorsey body was found.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Alexis Tiara Murphy

The car of a missing Shipman teen was found in the parking lot of a Charlottesville movie theater Tuesday evening.

Alexis Tiara Murphy, 17, was last seen Saturday evening. Her family believes she was headed to Lynchburg to get hair extensi...ons for her senior portrait, her aunt Angela Taylor said Tuesday afternoon.

At roughly 9 p.m., 15 to 20 law enforcement officers — including FBI agents, Albemarle County police and Nelson County sheriff's deputies — surrounded a white Nissan Maxima in a darkened back corner of the Carmike Six cinema parking lot on Gardens Boulevard off U.S. 29 in Albemarle County.

The Virginia license plate number on the vehicle, WYN-3706, matched the one listed in a news release issued Tuesday by the FBI.

Police tape surrounded the vehicle, which had no apparent damage to the exterior as officers clustered behind the perimeter. Authorities on the scene declined to comment.

The theater is less than half a mile from the store where family members said Alexis worked.

As of Tuesday evening, authorities had not found Alexis and Nelson County Sheriff David Brooks said it was not immediately clear how the discovery of her car would affect efforts to locate her.

The search to find Alexis swelled Tuesday to include over 50 FBI agents, canine units and a state police helicopter.

Law enforcement searched an area 30 miles to the north and south of Lovingston, focusing special attention on U.S. 29, Brooks said Tuesday afternoon from the search command post at Tye River Middle School. She was last seen at the Liberty Gas Station on U.S. 29 in Shipman near her house.

Officers are collecting residential and commercial surveillance footage in the area for clues and following tips, he said.

The sheriff declined to comment on specifics of the case, including whether search warrants had been filed and if he expects to make any arrests during the investigation.

Brooks noted there does not appear to be a threat to the public.

Authorities are asking for help to find Alexis.

“No bit of information is too small,” the FBI emphasized in a Tuesday evening news release.

Meanwhile, more than a dozen friends and family members gathered at her Shipman home hoping for good news.

Taylor described her niece as “a fun-loving person” whose interests ranged from fashion to photography to her Nelson County High School volleyball team.

While other students may dread the end of summer, Alexis was excited to go back to school so she could play volleyball, cousin Angela Vest said.

She said she doubts the Alexis would have run away.

“She was a good girl. … The whole thing is just unbelievable,” Vest said.

Taylor said the rising senior had begun looking at colleges. She was considering pursuing a career in accounting.

Alexis was a responsible young woman, always clocking into work on time at Kid to Kid, the clothing store where she had recently begun working, Taylor said.

And she always called ahead if she was running late as curfew approached.

“Her cell phone is like her sixth finger,” Taylor said, which is why her family found it disconcerting when she stopped answering the phone in recent days.

Now, calls to her phone go straight to voicemail, her aunt explained.

Friends and family have been spreading the word of Alexis’s disappearance through Facebook and flyers posted around town, watching the hours pass with no word of Alexis.

“It’s just unreal. I would not wish this on my worst enemy — to go through this,” Taylor said.

Alexis is described as a black teenager with brown eyes and hair standing 5 feet, 7 inches and weighing 156 pounds.

She was last seen wearing a pink blouse, floral-print spandex pants and brown boots and was carrying a grey purse.

Anyone with information on her disappearance is urged to contact authorities at (434) 263-7050.