State police: ‘Forensic link’ ties Jesse Matthew to Morgan Harrington case

Jesse "LJ" Matthew. Photo: Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail Jesse “LJ” Matthew. Photo: Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail

The Virginia State Police have confirmed that a forensic link ties Jesse “LJ” Matthew, arrested last week for abduction in the case of missing UVA student Hannah Graham, to the 2009 disappearance of Morgan Harrington, whose remains were found on an Albemarle County farm three months after she vanished after a concert in Charlottesville.

“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.,” reads a statement from Corinne Geller, spokeswoman for the State Police. “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.”

Geller declined to elaborate on the nature of the evidence, and her statement said that “right now, the public’s focus needs to remain on helping Charlottesville Police locate and bring Hannah Graham home.”

Since her disappearance, Morgan Harrington’s parents, Gil and Dan Harrington, have become advocates for campus safety legislation, and founded the nonprofit Help Save the Next Girl. They’ve also helped keep attention on the fact that Morgan’s killer is still at large. But as media attention on the Graham disappearance reached a fever pitch after the 18-year-old second-year vanished on September 13 and many speculated about a tie between the two unsolved cases, Gil Harrington spoke up to implore the public to focus on the search for Hannah.

Today, she indicated she had been informed of the link, but again emphasized that a woman is still missing.

“We’re incredibly grateful for the work law enforcement has done, and we want to keep the focus on the search for Hannah,” she said.