The Hannah Graham UVA Murder Case Finally Comes To A Close With The Guilty Plea & Sentencing Of Jesse Matthew
Jesse LeRoy Matthew Jr. of Virginia has entered into a plea deal over the death of Hannah Graham, the 18-year-old University of Virginia student who was murdered in September 2014. Matthew will reportedly receive two life sentences for Graham's murder, as well as another two life sentences for the murder of Morgan Harrington, a 20-year-old Virginia Tech student who was killed in 2009.
Graham disappeared in September 2014 after a night of partying in Charlottesville, Virginia, where the UVA campus is located. Just before she disappeared, she texted a friend saying she that was lost, then attended another party. Five weeks later, her body was found at an abandoned property 12 miles away from the university campus and just six miles from the field where Harrington's body was disposed of.
Security camera footage of a local restaurant allegedly showed Graham being followed by Matthew — who, at six feet two inches and 270 pounds, had a recognizable frame which aided in his identification and capture. Jenn Finazzo, an employee at the restaurant, discovered the tape and turned it over to the police, who initiated a nationwide manhunt for the suspect. Matthew was later arrested in Galveston County, Texas. That arrest gave the police a "new forensic link" to the then-unsolved murder of Harrington from five years earlier.
Matthew has been linked to other assaults at college campuses. In 2002 and 2003, he was accused of raping students at Liberty University and Christopher Newport University, where he played football, although these charges were ultimately dropped. His arrest has renewed the investigation into the disappearances of two women in Newport News, Virginia, where Christopher Newport University is located. "We're putting fresh eyes on it," said Lewis Thurston, a police spokesman.
Matthew was connect to yet another assault through the evidence found in Harrington's murder. In 2005, Matthew allegedly followed a woman home from the grocery store in Fairfax County, Virginia, and then physically and sexually assaulted her. “I was thinking, ‘This is going to be the end, keep screaming, keep screaming,’ ” the woman testified at his trial in June. “ I feared this is going to be the end of my life.” Matthew was sentenced to three life sentences for that assault.
Matthew reportedly took the plea deal for the Graham and Harrington murders to keep the death penalty off the table. On top of the three life sentences he is currently serving, he will now likely add four more for the murders of Graham and Herrington.