Sept. 29, 2014
Police say the investigation into the case of a missing University of Virginia student has turned up a lead in the 2009 disappearance and death of another young woman.
Virginia State Police said in a written statement that the arrest of 32-year-old Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr. provided a forensic link for investigators to pursue in the case of 20-year-old Morgan Harrington.
Morgan disappeared while attending a Metallica concert at the John Paul Jones Arena in 2009. Her remains were found several months later in Albemarle County.
Gil Harrington, Morgan’s mother, told CBS19 that State Police informed her of the link to the Hannah Graham case.
Also back in 2010 evidence in Harrington's cases was linked forensically to an abduction and sexual assault of a 26-year-old Fairfax woman back in 2005.
Police released a composite sketch of the suspect after the victim came forward. He's described as a black man, about 6 feet tall with a mustache and beard between the ages of 25 and 35.
Hannah Graham and Morgan Harrington both went missing in Charlottesville and even though police have not released any further information, we know that these two cases have a forensic link.
“When they found the body of Morgan Harrington they were able to collect the evidence from that scene,” says Scott Goodman, legal analyst. “So it's possible that something that they found at that scene has now been linked to Jesse Matthew, now that they have a suspect in the Hannah Graham case, or it could be that some of the items taken from Jesse Matthew's apartment or car are linked to Morgan Harrington.”
Goodman says that at this point it would be difficult for police to make an arrest in the Harrington case with only this forensic link.
“As far as we know they don't have any evidence putting Morgan Harrington and Jesse Matthew together, such as we have in the Hannah Graham case, or like we have with Randy Taylor and Alexis Murphy,” says Goodman.
However, this new link could allow police to question Matthew again.
“They've wanted to talk to Mr. Matthew,” says Goodman. “He's evoked his right to counsel in the Hannah Graham case.”
“He hasn't had a lawyer in the Morgan Harrington case because he was never linked to that, but now if they wanted to, police could approach him.”
Matthew is charged with abduction with intent to defile UVa. 2nd-year student Hannah Elizabeth Graham. She's been missing since Saturday, Sept. 13. Matthew is being held in jail without bond.
State Police weren't specific about the forensic link. In the statement, spokesman Corrinne Geller said police would have no further comment on the investigation.
Virginia State Police’s statement:
For the past five years, the Virginia State Police has been aggressively pursuing the investigation into the disappearance and death of 20-year-old Morgan D. Harrington of Roanoke, Va. Last week, the arrest of Jesse L. Matthew Jr., 32, of Charlottesville, Va., provided a significant break in this case with a new forensic link for state police investigators to pursue. There is a still a great deal of work to be done in regards to this investigation and we appreciate the public’s patience as we move forward.
Anyone with new information concerning the Harrington investigation is encouraged to contact the Virginia State Police at 434-352-3467 or the Jefferson Area Crime Stoppers at 434-977-4000.
Meanwhile, state police continues to dedicate the necessary resources to assist the Charlottesville Police Department through the course of its investigation and with their efforts to locate Hannah Graham. In fact, right now, the public’s focus needs to remain on helping Charlottesville Police locate and bring Hannah Graham home.