Laura French, WTVR (Charlottesville), September 29, 2014
The man suspected of abducting 18-year-old Hannah Graham from the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville, Virginia earlier this month is forensically linked to the 2009 disappearance of 20-year-old Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington, sources close to the investigation confirmed to CBS 6 reporter Laura French.
Those sources indicated that forensic evidence belonging to Graham suspect Jesse Matthew Jr., matched forensic evidence collected during the Harrington investigation.
The sources would not indicate what Matthew may or may not have done with Harrington, however the sources indicated that the forensic evidence match showed Harrington had some sort of contact with Matthew the night she disappeared outside John Paul Jones arena on October 17, 2009. Her remains were found in January 2010 on an Albemarle County farm.
“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,” Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller wrote in an email following the CBS 6 News report. “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.”
Two years after Morgan Harrington’s remains were found, the FBI released a sketch of the man they said had contact with the Virginia Tech student. The sketch was released after investigators found forensic evidence that linked a 2005 sex assault in Fairfax to Harrington’s disappearance.
“Throughout the past nine years our detectives have worked continually and diligently to positively identify a suspect in this case,” Fairfax Police spokesman Sgt. Natalie Hinesley wrote in a statement about the status of the sexual assault investigation. “Details of the investigation and any related evidentiary information will not be disclosed at this time in order to protect the integrity of the investigation and any possible prosecution.”