WASHINGTON, October 18, 2014 — The Hannah Graham missing persons case has now moved into a death investigation that will most likely escalate into a murder case.
A body has been found in an abandoned structure in a heavily wooded area in Walnut Creek Park, an area outside of Charlottesville, Virginia.
Though waiting for confirmation from forensic tests, authorities believe that the body is the remains of Hannah Graham, an 18 year old University of Virginia sophomore who disappeared about five weeks ago
Police have confirmed that DNA links a 2009 missing student, Morgan Harrington, with Jessie Matthew, the chief suspect in Hannah Graham’s disappearance 35 days ago. Harrington’s body was found 101 days after she went missing, buried in a hayfield 10 miles outside the city.
Harrington went missing five years ago yesterday; her remains were found not far from where Hannah Graham was found.
Police have noted that Matthew has connections and knowledge of the area where Graham and Harrington were found. Matthew lived in the area, his mother lives in the area, and his address of record is from the area.
The last person seen with Graham was Jessie Matthew, who at 6 foot, 2 inches, 270 pounds, and with long dreadlocks is very recognizable. Graham is seen on security cameras around 12:45 am the day she disappeared about a mile from the campus in an area dominated by gas stations and car dealerships
She is then seen near McGrady’s Irish Pub, where she stopped and spoke to general manager Laura Harris who talked to Graham and asked if she was lost. She told USA Today that Graham said, “I’m OK, I’m just walking.”
Videotapes from Finazzo’s reaturants and Sal’s Caffe Italia shows Graham moving quickly, leaning slightly forward with a straight-ahead gaze. “She was walking with determination, like she needed to get somewhere,” Finazzo said.
Hannah Graham was last seen walking along a pedestrian area outside the restaurant, Matthew is seen cutting across the area in what is characterized as the pursuit of Graham.
Video tapes also show Matthew walking leisurely by the restaurants, bookstores and ice-cream parlors, reversing his course tofollow Graham, closing a 10-second gap behind her in one block where the two of them are picked up by a security camera outside of Tuel Jewelers. In that tape, Matthew seems to have his arm around Graham.
From the area outside of Tuel Jewelers, Graham and Matthew walk over to Tempo, where Matthew had previously been dancing and drinking.
It is the last place Graham is seen.
Previously, two universities have disclosed that Matthew was accused of rape. In 2002 he was accused by a Liberty University student of rape, but the accuser declined to press charges.
Matthews then moved to Christopher Newport University, Newport News, where he was accused of rape on September 7, 2003. That accuser also declined to press charges, and as after the Liberty University incident, Matthew withdrew and left the school.
Police are attempting to identify links between Matthew and three other women who were murdered or who are missing. These include Cassandra Morton, who was last seen near Liberty University on Oct. 10, 2009. Sophie Rivera was last seen in Newport News on Sept. 7, 2003, and Samantha Clarke was last seen in Orange, Va., about 30 miles from Charlottesville, on Sept. 10, 2010.
“When you look at all the rape charges there have been, it’s staggering,” said Gil Harrington, Morgan Harrington’s mother.
Forensics from Matthew’s apartment led to Matthew being charged with abducting Graham with “intent to defile” a felony charge. Matthew was eventually found in Gilchrist, Texas, about 50 miles southeast of Houston.