Virginia State Police have suggested that forensic evidence links Jesse Matthew, the suspect in the recent disappearance case of Hannah Graham (18) to the rape and murder of Morgan Harrington (20) although they are stopping short of accusing him. Graham was a sophomore at the University of Virginia and was last seen on September 13th, 2014. Harrington (20) was a student at Virginia Tech, Charlottesville campus and last seen on October 17th, 2009. Graham has not been located, Harrington’s remains were found on January 26th, 2010; her death was ruled a homicide by the Richmond Medical Examiner Office in early February 2010. Matthews was recently arrested in connection with the Graham case and preliminarily charged with abduction related criminal counts. If it turns out that Matthew’s DNA is connected to the Harrington crime scene, the prosecutors may have strong evidence for charges of murder. Virginia police announced that the arrest in the Graham case has “provided a significant break” in the Harrington case. It is also believed that DNA evidence collected in the Harrington case and that from the abduction and rape of a 26-six-year-old woman in Fairfax City, near Washington D.C. match. Police are also again focusing on the murder case involving Cassandra Morton (23) who went missing from Lynchburg, VA the same night of the Harrington murder. The locations are about 60 miles apart. Forensic evidence will likely be of great importance to the investigators. Also, investigators are in the midst of comparing forensic evidence found in the double homicides of Heidi Childs and David Metzler, who were shot and killed in August 2009 in Montgomery County, Virginia. The two were students at Virginia Tech. Although no viable suspects have been named, the Sheriff said DNA evidence had been collected from that scene.
Police have additional evidence in some of these cases including a sketch in the Harrington case which seems to closely resemble Matthews. Also, there is video and other evidence to place him at or near the scene in the Graham matter. Police are continuing to look for additional evidence in the multiple jurisdictions and are hopeful that the Matthew arrest and forensic discoveries made in connection with that case, will lead to arrests in their areas.
UPDATE: Police are expected to announce today that 1st-degree murder charges are being filed against Matthew in connection with the murder of Hannah Graham. Ms. Graham’s remains had been found on abandoned property not far from where she was abducted. Matthew (32) is currently in jail awaiting trial for rape and related charges that have previously filed in the case. Matthew has also been charged with attempted murder and rape in connection with a 2005 assault on a 26-year-old Fairfax woman who was attacked while walking home from a grocery store; that case has been recently delayed to give the defense additional time to examine DNA evidence collected from that scene. Matthew has been the subject of numerous investigations. However, he was cleared in connection with a 2013 Nelson County case involving the disappearance of Alexis Murphy.
UPDATE: A grand jury returned an indictment against Matthew for the first-degree murder of Hannah Graham and also for her abduction with the intent to defile her. Although the charge for murder includes intent and premeditation, the state is not seeking the death penalty. The Albemarle County prosecutor’s office confirmed that they had DNA evidence. The penalty for these charges is up to life in prison. No charges have been filed yet in the Morgan Harrington (20) case.
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