The arrest of Jesse Matthew — the suspect in the disappearance of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham — has resulted in a “significant break” in the 2009 death of another young woman in the same area, police said.
Our sister station, WTVR, was first to report the development.
Virginia State Police did not elaborate on the development into the investigation of the death of Morgan Harrington, only saying there is a “new forensic link.”
However, WTVR sources indicated that forensic evidence belonging to Matthew 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.
The 20-year-old Virginia Tech student went missing after attending a Metallica concert in Charlottesville. Her remains were found on a farm months later.
Matthew was being held in isolation in a Virginia jail cell, authorities said Saturday.
Authorities took Matthew to Charlottesville, Virginia, on Friday after he agreed not to fight extradition from Texas, where he had been taken into custody after police obtained a warrant for his arrest on Tuesday.
Investigators think he was the last person with Graham. He is charged with abduction with the intent to defile in the case, according to Charlottesville police.
Graham was last seen September 13 in an area of Charlottesville known as the Downtown Mall. Police have asked owners of large parcels of property in surrounding counties to search their land and report back.
Authorities are offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of the 18-year-old, a second-year student the university.
Matthew’s father has said his son is not the type to hurt anyone.
“For a big man, he’s as gentle as they come,” Jesse Matthew Sr. told CNN affiliate WTVR. “The only thing I could see, him, maybe trying to give the girl a ride or help her out.”
“To kill or hurt somebody, that’s not my son.”
Authorities found Matthew on a Galveston County beach after deputies got a call about a suspicious person camping there.
Matthew did not resist arrest, police said.
Mike Rodenberg, a vacationer who was fishing near the campsite when Matthew was arrested, said Matthew asked about why he was throwing some of his catch back.
“He seemed real nice. He was real soft-spoken,” Rodenberg said. “(He) said he was down here from New Jersey and was looking for a job. I told him if I caught another redfish he could have it.”
In addition to Graham’s disappearance, Matthew also has been questioned in connection with an alleged sexual assault nearly 12 years ago.
According to a statement from Lynchburg police, a woman reported she was raped on the campus of Liberty University on October 17, 2002. Matthew was a student there for three years and played on the football team.
However, no charges were filed because the woman didn’t want to go forward with the case, and investigators determined there wasn’t enough evidence to arrest Matthew, said Michael Doucette, the commonwealth’s attorney for Lynchburg.
Matthew told authorities that the woman consented, Doucette said, adding that there were no witnesses.