VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — As the Virginia Beach Police Department conducts its own probe into its response, reporting and public notification in connection to the fatal abduction of Marie Covington, 10 On Your Side’s investigative team continues to search for new information in the case.
On Wednesday, the medical examiner confirmed that Covington died of a gunshot wound to the head. That same day, 10 On Your Side investigators received a response to a Freedom of Information Act request our team filed with VBPD for a copy of the report created when Covington’s family reported her missing on August 18.
VBPD released a one-page public copy of an incident report to 10 On Your Side. The agency withheld a six-page internal copy of the police report due to the ongoing criminal investigation.
The public copy of the report reveals little information about the abduction, but does confirm a few key details of the timeline: Covington was abducted from a home in the 200 block of Thalia Trace Drive, she was last seen at 9:57 p.m. on Aug. 17, and she was reported missing the next day at 10:25 p.m.
10 On Your Side first learned of Covington’s abduction around 8 a.m. on Aug. 20 when her daughter contacted the news station via email to ask for help finding her mother. The newsroom didn’t get confirmation that the mother of four was missing until about 12 hours later when editors learned from Norfolk police scanner traffic that a citizen found Covington’s license in their front yard.
At the request of the VBPD, the Virginia State Police issued a Critically Missing Adult Alert for Covington at 9:50 p.m. on Aug. 20. The VBPD issued a tweet announcing Covington was missing and endangered at 10:49 p.m. A few minutes later, scanner traffic revealed that Covington was discovered shot to death on Galt Street in Norfolk. Police later confirmed that Covington was murdered.
The man accused of killing Covington, 43-year-old Gary Morton, was already in police custody when officers discovered her body. He was arrested on August 20 after a police pursuit that began in Chesapeake.
Court records show that a state trooper attempted to pull Morton over at 3:15 a.m. while he was driving a 2016 white Ford SUV. Morton refused to stop and proceeded to enter I-64 West in Chesapeake. Morton reportedly topped 115 mph at times before exiting the interstate at Chesapeake Boulevard. He pulled into a junkyard, and then ran from the scene before officers took him into custody.
Police looked up the vehicle information and discovered the SUV belonged to Covington, who was reported missing and was last seen in the Ford with Morton. A cellphone belonging to Morton was located in the driver’s seat of the SUV, along with two concealed semi-automatic pistols and an open container of alcohol.
State police contacted VBPD after arresting Morton and advised them of their discovery. According to the VBPD, detectives responded and continued their investigation into Covington’s disappearance, which led them to believe that foul play was possible. That is when the agency requested that the VSP issue an Ashanti Alert for Covington.
“The Virginia Beach Police Department has opened an inquiry into the timeline of our initial response, reporting, and public notification,” the agency wrote in a statement released to the media on August 23.
Morton is facing many charges across Chesapeake, Norfolk, and Virginia Beach, including abduction, second-degree murder, and use of a firearm. At the time of Covington’s disappearance, he was out on bond in a felony strangulation case in Norfolk. Prosecutors said he was granted bond after the victim in that case could not attend several scheduled court hearings due to military obligations.