Local media in Charlottesville, Virginia is reporting that Jesse Matthew Jr. has officially been charged with first degree murder in the case of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham.
According to USA Today, however, officials with the Albemarle County Police Department refused to confirm the charges Monday evening, stating they would address the Graham investigation in a press conference Tuesday morning.
Hannah Graham was a sophomore at the University of Virginia when she went missing in September of 2014. Graham, an eighteen-year-old British American, was last seen leaving a Charlottesville bar on September 13 with the suspect, Jesse Matthew Jr.
The following week, nearly two thousand volunteers aided in the search for Graham in the Charlottesville area. A Facebook page dedicated to helping with the search effort for Hannah yielded more than forty thousand likes.
Graham was said to have last made contact with friends via text message around 1:06 a.m. the morning of September 13 stating she had gotten lost on the way to a party.
Surveillance video footage in the area and witness accounts helped authorities track down Matthew as the suspect in Graham’s disappearance. He was arrested on September 24 in Galveston County, Texas.
Because Graham was still considered missing, Matthew was detained and charged with abduction with the intent to defile.
Hannah Graham’s remains were found on October 18, 2014 on an abandoned lot in Albermarle County, eight miles from where she was last seen. The coroner ruled Graham’s death a homicide of unknown etiology.
On October 24, Hannah’s parents, John and Sue Graham, released a statement confirming her death and thanking law enforcement officials and community members for their tireless effort in the attempt to locate their daughter.
“We are devastated by the loss of our beautiful daughter, Hannah. Over recent weeks Hannah has been described by those who know her as bright, witty, thoughtful, loyal and fun to be around. She was all those things and more. Put simply, Hannah lit up our lives, the lives of our family and the lives of her friends and others who knew her. Although we have lost our precious Hannah, the light she radiated can never be extinguished.”
The statement concluded with a wish for continued prayer and support for other families whose loved ones are still missing. Graham’s disappearance and murder is just one in a string of unsolved murders and abductions nearby.
According to local CBS affiliate, WTVR, Graham’s body was located approximately five miles from the body of Morgan Harrington, another local woman who had gone missing after a heavy metal concert. Jesse Matthew’s DNA was found on the shirt Harrington was wearing the night of her disappearance. He has not yet been charged in that case.
Investigators are looking into the possibility that Matthew, Graham’s suspected killer, is linked to three other murders and one missing person case in the same vicinity.
Jesse Matthew Jr. is currently awaiting trial for the rape of a Fairfax, Virginia woman in 2005.
[Image courtesy of Inside Charlottesville.]