The suspect charged with the kidnapping of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham may have a lengthy history of sexual assault and possibly murder, painting a much different picture of the man who friends of his describe as a “gentle giant” and “overall nice guy.”
The Washington Post reported late Wednesday that Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr., 32, had been previously accused of two sexual assaults within an 11-month timeframe while he was an undergraduate at two different universities. Matthew was ultimately never charged in either of the incidents.
The first accusation came on October 17, 2002 from a student at Lynchburg’s Liberty University. Lynchburg Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Doucette told The Washington Post that a student had accused Matthew of raping her on campus. Police investigated the case but the accuser refused to press charges against Matthew, and the case was ultimately dropped when no corroborating witnesses could be found. The Washington Post also reported that Matthew stopped attending school the same day the rape accusation was made.
The second accusation was reported at Christopher Newport University September 7, 2003. Just like the previous incident, police investigated the case and Matthew left the school less than a week later. The resolution of the investigation and whether or not Matthew’s departure was a direct result of it have yet to be confirmed at this time.
According to Virginia State Police, there is a “forensic link” between Matthew and 20-year-old Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington, who disappeared after attending a concert in 2009 and whose body was discovered later that year. At this time there have not been any charges filed in connection with that murder, nor have police released information on what that link actually is.
Matthew is currently facing charges of abduction with intent to defile in the case of Hannah Graham, who was last seen September 13 after a night of heavy drinking and parties. Surveillance video shows Graham walking through a mall in Charlottesville, Virginia. She also sent a text message to a friend that night indicating she was lost. Matthew is currently being held without bond and has a preliminary hearing scheduled for December 4.
Jesse Leroy Matthew was also expected in court Thursday morning in regards to the reckless driving charges he received when he sped out of a police station after refusing to talk to police about Graham’s disappearance. At the time, he was not being formally charged with the abduction, and police only sought him for information in the hopes that he could lead investigators to her safe return. The judge presiding over the reckless driving case read Matthew’s name aloud and moved on to the next case without explanation.
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