The arrest of a 32-year-old man related to the disappearance of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham, may resolve cold cases from years ago. Is Jesse L. Matthew a serial killer?
Forensic evidence discovered during the investigation of Ms. Graham’s disappearance has been linked to the 2009 murder of 20-year-old Morgan Harrington. Her body was found on a farm months later. Other young women are missing from the same area since 2009; Alexis Murphy, 17, of Lovingston, 19-year-old DaShad Laquinn Smith from Charlottesville, and Samantha Clarke, 19 of Orange. There was also a sexual assault in 2005 in Fairfax City. The woman escaped, and was able to give police a description resulting in a composite drawing.
In July 43-year-old Randy Taylor was sentenced to two life terms for the murder of Murphy, but her body has never been recovered.
Matthew was arrested after DNA tests linked him to Ms. Graham. When video from the area in which Ms. Graham had last been seen led police to believe that Matthew had been the last person to be in contact with her, he was labeled ‘a person of interest.’ Subsequently items, including clothing were removed from his home and car.
The video depicted Ms. Graham ‘walking unsteadily and sometimes running’ past a pub, a gas station and then into the Downtown Mall, a seven-block pedestrian strip. Detectives believe she and Matthew were previously at a bar, and may have left together in his car.
Clint Van Zandt, a former FBI profiler, said he was not surprised by the new evidence.
“Since this most recent victim disappeared, I said time and again that if they could find out who was responsible there was a good chance the same person would be responsible for Morgan Harrington and a number of others,” he said.
Jesse L. Matthew attended ‘Christopher Newport University’ for less than a year. He was registered from January 2003 through October 15, 2003. He was a member of the football team from August 14th to September 12th of that year.
The University cited federal law and could not supply additional information about Matthew with one minor exception: “Christopher Newport University has determined that there is a single file responsive to your inquiry regarding infractions against Matthew issued by University Police,” the statement read.
This information revealed that a file had been started on Matthew
Not long after his release from CNU, Newport News police claimed that they were receiving a ‘high volume of calls’ about Matthew.
CBS is reporting that Matthew was previously investigated on a complaint of rape 12 years ago. There were no criminal charges filed, but a teammate on the football team told CBS that he was released from the school after the investigation. (There is a possible conflict here; CBS names the school as ‘Liberty University in Lynchburg).
At present Matthew has been charged with ‘abduction with intent to defile.’ Intent to defile is molestation. For these charges alone he could receive life imprisonment. Continuing investigation may answer the question: Is Jesse L. Matthew a serial killer?