Three Months Later, Friends and Family Struggle Without Alexis Murphy
Nelson Co., VA - It's been three months almost to the day since Alexis Murphy went missing.
The search for the Nelson County teen dominated ABC 13's news coverage for weeks.
No one has felt the effects of Murphy's disappearance more than her friends and family.
Laura Murphy says not knowing where her daughter is has been crippling. For everyone close to Alexis, it's a constant battle between uncertainty and hope.
As the sun comes up over Shipman one dewy, foggy morning in fall, a ribbon pink sky is revealed. There are also reminders that another day is starting without Alexis.
ABC 13 asked Murphy's mother, Laura, what the first thing on her mind was each morning.
"Alexis. Because I know she should be here getting up in the morning to go to school," said Laura Murphy.
Laura Murphy's morning routine is much calmer these days. No picking up after a messy and rushed Alexis. No pushing her out the door because she's running late, as usual.
"And a lot of times when I get here from work, I'd have to take her to school," Laura Murphy continued.
What used to be a nuisance, though, is now what Laura misses most.
"I miss it. I miss it," Laura Murphy said.
No matter what Laura Murphy does, she can't keep herself from wondering.
"Where is she at? Is my girl going to come home? Where is she at?" Laura Murphy said.
Nelson County High School Principal Todd Weidow says students are learning to live with the uncertainty.
"I know it crosses my mind daily that she is still missing," Weidow said. "I don't think that they've forgotten. I think that they've just adjusted and been able to acclimate and do what they need to do in their daily lives."
As the days, weeks, and months drag by, reality is starting to sink in for some.
Without her star hitter and team captain, Head Volleyball Coach Vicki Crawford is having a rough season, filled with tough losses.
"As the season concludes, you know, she hasn't played a single game with us and the reality is now she won't play any games with us this year," Crawford said. "It's been hard, it's been terrible... I've had moments of breakdowns for sure. And my team has probably seen me cry more than anyone's ever seen me cry, because it's just been that kind of year. Her name and picture and everything's all over the gym, so she's always present with us."
Alexis's mother is faced with the same reminders. Tokens of support from the community fill her home, and lift her heart.
"I look at it and I just talk to her. I just talk to her like she's there. I mean, I don't want nobody to think I'm crazy, but that's, I just talk to her," Laura Murphy said.
Whether it's a balloon, a bear, or a banner, Laura finds comfort in knowing her daughter is not forgotten. No matter how many sunrises or sunsets, hope will not be lost for Alexis's safe return.
"I just, you know, keep faith that she's somewhere," Crawford said.
"We all have that hope, and you have to keep the hope," Weidow said.
"The hope that I have in me is, I know she's somewhere out there, and I have prayed to God, 'please send me a sign. You know, is my daughter here or not?' He hasn't sent that to me yet," Murphy said.
Laura Murphy says another reason she has hope is because of the three Cleveland women who were found after being held captive for ten years.
Murphy says she actually watched the coverage of that story with Alexis, and that Alexis told her if she ever had to go through something like that, she would rather her captors take her life, than torture her.
Laura Murphy says it's a conversation she'll never forget.