Serial Rapist And Murderer Targeted College Students

Jesse Matthew Jr. during his arrest
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News & Politics
Jessica Powers

Morgan Harrington, a 20-year-old Virginia Tech student, had attended a Metallica concert in Charlottesville, Virginia, when she went missing on October 17th, 2009. About two months later, Morgan's remains were located.

But it would take almost five years and another woman getting murdered before authorities put the pieces together and figured out who was responsible for her murder: Jesse Matthew.

Morgan Harrington Goes Missing

 Jesse Matthew Jr.'s victims
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Morgan was at a concert with friends when she left to use the bathroom. She somehow ended up outside the arena and couldn't get back inside.

People reported seeing Morgan in the parking lot after 9 p.m. and said she looked drunk and had a gash on her chin.

The last time Morgan was seen alive was just before 9:30 p.m. when a witness saw her on the Copeley Bridge trying to hitchhike.

Authorities contacted her parents, Dan and Gil, after discovering her personal belongings in a parking lot.

Her Body is Discovered

Jesse Matthew Jr
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Authorities found a t-shirt Morgan was wearing about a month later and could match Morgan's DNA and the DNA of an offender from a sexual assault in Fairfax, Virginia, in 2005.

Authorities would take another month to find her body in Albemarle County. Morgan's leggings, boots, underwear, and a necklace, were missing. Her cause of death was ruled a homicide.

Hannah Graham Disappears Five Years Later

 Jesse Matthew Jr.'s victims
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Five years later, on September 12, 2014, 18-year-old Hannah Graham went out with friends from the University of Virginia ski team. Hannah reportedly told her friends around midnight that she wasn't feeling well and was going home.

At some point, Hannah, seemingly intoxicated, implied in a text message that she was lost. Surveillance cameras showed an unknown man approaching Hannah, which a witness confirmed.

Using this footage, authorities held a press conference and figured out the suspect was 32-year-old Jesse Leory Matthew, Jr.

Matthew was found near Galveston, Texas, on September 24, 2014. Law enforcement had their suspect, but Hannah remained missing.

Less than a month later, and almost exactly five years since Morgan Harrington went missing, authorities found Hannah's body in Albemarle County. Her shoes, bra, underwear, and cell phone were all missing.

Jesse Matthew Sentences To Life In Prison

a courtroom.
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Jesse Matthew, who was a taxi driver and worked at the University of Virginia hospital, was charged with both Morgan and Hannah's murders and the Fairfax sexual assault.

He was sentenced to four consecutive life terms when he pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of abduction with the intent to defile in the deaths of Hannah Graham and Morgan Harrington.

Prosecutor Robert Tracci said the plea deal avoided the re-victimization of the Harrington and Graham families, resulting from a long and highly publicized trial that would have inevitably occurred.

Graham's mother, Susan Graham, said her daughter helped law enforcement apprehend a "serial rapist" who had been "hiding in plain sight in Charlottesville for years."

Sexual Assaults Revealed

The victims didn't press charges.
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Matthew was also accused of raping students in 2002 and 2003 at Liberty University and Christopher Newport University, where he had played football. Those cases were dropped when the women declined to press charges but came back to light during his high-profile cases.

A lawsuit filed last summer states that during one incident, Liberty threatened to charge one of the victims with filing a false report, made her ride in a police car with her alleged attacker, and questioned her without water or food for eight hours.

Twelve anonymous former Liberty University employees or students signed onto the lawsuit that claims the university “enabled on-campus rapes.” It suppressed complaints of sexual assault and rape, such as in the case of Matthew.