Jesse Matthew Charged in Connection to Death of Morgan Harrington

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File Photo:  Jesse Matthew File Photo: Jesse Matthew

The man accused of capital murder in the death of Hannah Graham is now charged with the murder of Morgan Harrington.

An Albemarle County grand jury indicted Jesse Matthew last Friday on first-degree murder and abduction with intent to defile charges in connection with the death of Morgan Harrington.  

Harrington left a Metallica concert at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville back in October 2009 never to be seen again. Her remains were found months later on a southern Albemarle County farm.  Matthew had been forensically linked to the case during two other investigations.

“After a series of discussions within the office and with the various law enforcement agencies involved with this, we decided a month or so ago that it was time to proceed and ask a grand jury what they thought," said Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney Denise Lunsford. "Really it was just a matter of looking at what we had over the course of the years, making a determination if now is the appropriate time, whether we should wait any longer for any reason."

Regarding the charges, Morgan Harrington's mother Gil said "it doesn't bring closure but there's some satisfaction. We have known in our hearts and believed very strongly that Mr. Matthew was responsible.  It was very important and I don't know why it was so important for Dan, me, our son Alex to have some acknowledgment of the fact that Morgan’s life was taken. She was robbed from us." 

A search warrant NBC29 obtained in November says Morgan's t-shirt had multiple DNA stains on it that matched Matthew's DNA.

Matthew is accused of abducting University of Virginia student Hannah Graham from Charlottesville's Downtown Mall in September 2014 and killing her. Her body was found in a wooded area off of Old Lynchburg Road in southern Albemarle County. Matthew is facing a capital murder charge in her death, meaning he could face the death penalty.

Legal analyst Lloyd Snook says investigating the Graham case along with a third case where Matthew attacked a woman in Fairfax likely helped the Harrington case. 

"I’m guessing that they found some other things they've found in their other investigations of Jesse Matthew that they thought might add a little to this case.  But sometimes cases get better but after a while if you don't get more evidence in, it's time to move," he said.

Matthew's trial in the Graham case is set for next summer. He's set to be sentenced for the Fairfax case next month.

He is due in court in connection with the Harrington case on Wednesday, Sept. 16.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Press Release from Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney:

On September 11, 2015, an Albemarle County Grand Jury returned two Indictments against Jesse Leroy Matthew, Jr. in connection with the October 17, 2009 disappearance and death of Morgan Dana Harrington. Matthew was charged with First Degree Murder of Morgan Harrington and Abduction with the Intent to Defile. The maximum penalty for each offense is life in prison.

These Indictments were received by the Court on September 15, 2015. An indictment is a charge and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial with the burden on the Commonwealth to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Matthew was served with the Indictments on September 15, 2015. His first appearance before the Albemarle County Circuit Court will take place at 12:45 p.m. on September 16, 2015. The indictments result from the dedicated investigative efforts over the past six years by the Virginia State Police, Albemarle County Police, Charlottesville Police, University of Virginia Police, and the FBI.

There will be no press conference. The Virginia State Bar’s Rules of Professional Conduct for Attorneys Rule 3:6 contains prohibitions on extrajudicial statements that may interfere with a fair trial. The Commonwealth intends to strictly adhere to this Rule and, accordingly, will not comment on the evidence, the penalty which may be sought, trial strategy or work product prior to trial.

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