Murder of Hannah Graham

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Hannah Graham
Hannah Graham.jpg
Born Hannah Elizabeth Graham
February 25, 1996[1]
Royal Berkshire Hospital
Reading, Berkshire, UK[2]
Disappeared September 13, 2014
Downtown Mall
Charlottesville, Virginia
Status Remains recovered October 18, 2014
Died c. September 13, 2014(2014-09-13) (aged 18)
Albemarle County, Virginia
Cause of death Homicidal violence of undetermined etiology[3]
Body discovered 37°55′26″N 78°36′55.5″W / 37.92389°N 78.615417°W / 37.92389; -78.615417
3193 Old Lynchburg Road[4]
North Garden, Virginia
October 18, 2014
Education West Potomac High School
University of Virginia
Height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)[5]
Weight 130 lb (59 kg)[5]

Hannah Elizabeth Graham (February 25, 1996 – c. September 13, 2014) was an 18-year-old second-year British American student at the University of Virginia who went missing on September 13, 2014. She was last seen early in the morning that day, at the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville, Virginia.[6] Five weeks later, her remains were discovered on an abandoned property in nearby Albemarle County.[7]. Jesse Matthew pled guilty to murdering Graham and was sentenced to a lifetime prison sentence. He also was found guilty and sentenced to three additional lifetimes for other, previous crimes.

Background[edit]

Graham's friends last heard from her via text message at about 1:20 am that day, after she told them she was on her way to a party, but was lost.[8] She had attended another party before disappearing.[9] According to surveillance footage and witness testimony, among the last places she was seen was at Tempo Restaurant with Jesse Leeroy Matthew Jr, a 32-year-old man and person of interest. A witness also said that Matthew was seen in the restaurant holding an arm around Graham, and that she looked drunk. Because Graham was below the US legal drinking age, Tempo Restaurant could face legal action if these sightings are confirmed.[10]

The last witness to see Hannah Graham alive says that Graham was with a man who "did not look friendly." As Graham was standing by a vehicle identified to be Matthew's orange 1998 Chrysler Sebring, the witness heard her say, "I'm not getting in that car with you!"[11]

Over a decade earlier, Matthew was twice accused of sexual assault at two separate Virginia colleges he attended as a student; he left each school immediately after each allegation. The reported assaults occurred within an 11-month period of each other: from 2002 to 2003 as Jesse Leeroy "LJ" Matthew, Jr. moved from the evangelical Christian Liberty University in Lynchburg to the Christopher Newport University in Newport News. Police investigated each report, but in neither incident was a criminal case brought against him.[12]

Search[edit]

Volunteer search[edit]

On September 20, a volunteer search for Graham took place throughout Charlottesville. Over 1,000 volunteers were reported to have been involved in the search.[13]

Search efforts[edit]

On September 25, Charlottesville police chief Timothy Longo said he believed that Graham was either in Charlottesville or one of the surrounding nine counties, and asked property owners to search for her on their own land.[14] The Department of Emergency Management organized two-person search teams in the search for Graham and estimated that as of September 26, those crews spent 44 hours in the field since the volunteer search.[15]

Remains found[edit]

On October 18, 2014, human remains were found at an abandoned property in Albemarle County, Virginia, by searchers from the Chesterfield County Sheriff's Office. At a press conference later that day, Chief Longo stated that the remains had not been positively identified as Graham; however, authorities informed Graham's parents of the discovery. The remains were sent to the Chief Medical Examiner's office in Richmond for identification.[16] On October 24, the remains were positively identified as Graham.[7] That same day, Graham's parents visited the property where she was found.[17] On November 18, The Washington Post reported that a cause for Graham's death was determined but was withheld at the request of law enforcement.[18] Later that day, the Albemarle County Police Department reversed course, releasing that Graham died of homicide by an "undetermined etiology".[3][19]

Suspect[edit]

On September 19, the local police identified a man they described as a "person of interest" whom they saw on surveillance cameras leaving a bar with Graham. The police have concluded that Graham may have gotten into a car with this man. They also searched the man's car and apartment, but declined to arrest or identify him at that time.[6][20] The police identified the "person of interest" as Jesse L. Matthew, Jr. the following day, in an effort to make contact with him for further questioning.[21] Police again searched Matthew's apartment on September 22;[22] during the search, they took items of clothing from his apartment, but would not elaborate on the importance of these items.[23] Police described the searches as a major break in the case and offered a $100,000 reward for information relating to Graham's disappearance.[24]

Arrest[edit]

On September 21, the police issued an arrest warrant for reckless driving by Jesse Matthew.[25] On September 23, Longo announced that Matthew had been charged with abduction with intent to defile.[26] On September 24, Longo, during a joint press conference with the FBI, announced that the suspect had been arrested in a sparsely populated part of Galveston County, Texas after being recognized by a woman on a beach.[27][28]

Connection to Morgan Harrington case[edit]

The suspect has been forensically linked by the Virginia State Police to the murder of Morgan Dana Harrington.[29]

On September 29, 2014, it was reported that forensic evidence taken from the investigation into the murder of Morgan Dana Harrington matched evidence taken from Jesse Matthew. Sources close to the Graham investigation added that Harrington interacted with Matthew on the night she disappeared.[30] Graham's remains were found about five miles from the location where Harrington's remains were discovered.[31] Matthew attended Liberty University, and later, Christopher Newport University; he was accused of sexual assault once at each of those universities. The first alleged incident occurred on October 17, 2002, and the second on September 7, 2003.[32]

On September 15, 2015, Matthew was formally charged with first degree murder and abduction with intent to defile in the murder of Morgan Harrington.[33] In a February 29, 2016 letter to news media, prosecutors said Matthew would plead guilty.[34] Matthew pled guilty and received four additional life terms.[35]

Legal proceedings[edit]

Matthew's first court appearance was scheduled for December 4, 2014.[32] Matthew's attorney stated that he would not ask the court for bail for his client.[36] On February 10, 2015, Albemarle County commonwealth's attorney Denise Lunsford announced that Matthew was being indicted for first-degree murder of Graham, in addition to the abduction charges.[37] On May 5, 2015, prosecutors announced that Matthew would be charged with capital murder. The increased charge of capital murder meant that Matthew could have faced the death penalty if convicted.[38] The trial date was set for July 5, 2016.[39] On March 2, 2016, Matthew pled guilty.[40][34] Later, Matthew received four additional life terms.[35]

Fairfax case[edit]

On October 20, 2014, Matthew was indicted on charges of attempted murder, object sexual penetration, and abduction with intent to defile from an incident that occurred in September 2005 in Fairfax, Virginia.[41][42] On November 14, 2014, Matthew pleaded not guilty to the charges, and a trial was set to begin on March 9, 2015.[43] On February 6, 2015, the Fairfax trial was postponed, with a new trial to be set on February 13.[44] On February 18, Matthew appeared in court, where Albemarle County Circuit Judge Cheryl Higgins scheduled his jury trial to begin on June 29.[45] However, the trial began on June 8,[46] and on June 10, Matthew abruptly entered an Alford plea, and was convicted on all charges.[47] On October 2, 2015, Matthew was sentenced to three life terms in the Fairfax case.[48]

Memorial[edit]

After Graham's remains were discovered and identified, students at the University of Virginia erected a memorial on campus in her honor.[49] The World Bank also holds an annual award for innovations to reduce gender based violence held in memory of Hannah Graham.[50]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 4, 2014. Retrieved September 27, 2014. 
  2. ^ Shapiro, T. Rees (14 November 2014). "For Hannah Graham's family, 'nightmare' leaves enduring uncertainty and loss". Washington Post. Retrieved 15 November 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "UPDATE: Police Release Cause, Manner of Death in Graham Case". WVIR. 18 November 2014. Retrieved 18 November 2014. 
  4. ^ Barefoot, Coy (19 October 2014). "EXCLUSIVE: Where Hannah Was Found". Inside Cville. Retrieved 21 October 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 9, 2014. Retrieved October 21, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b Carter, Chelsea (19 September 2014). "Major break: Police search car, apartment in case of missing Virginia student". CNN. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  7. ^ a b "Medical Examiner Confirms Hannah Graham's Remains Found in Albemarle". WVIR. 24 October 2014. Retrieved 24 October 2014. 
  8. ^ Vasiliadis, Joanne (19 September 2014). "Police ID man who left bar with missing U.Va. student". USA Today. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  9. ^ Stelloh, Tim (22 September 2014). "Hannah Graham: What Happened to the Missing Virginia Student?". NBC News. Retrieved 22 September 2014. 
  10. ^ "Bar at Center of Missing UVA Student Case May Face Legal Trouble". ABC News. 27 September 2014. Retrieved 27 September 2014. 
  11. ^ "Statement of Facts Reveal New Details in Graham and Harrington Cases". NBC29. March 2, 2016. Retrieved 3 March 2016. 
  12. ^ "U-Va. suspect Jesse L. Matthew Jr. twice accused of college sex assaults". The Washington Post. October 1, 2014. 
  13. ^ Suderman, Alan (20 September 2014). "Hundreds search for missing UVa student". Miami Herald. Retrieved 20 September 2014. 
  14. ^ Crimesider Staff (25 September 2014). "Police ask property owners to help search for Hannah Graham". CBS News. Retrieved 25 September 2014. 
  15. ^ "Challenges remain in case of missing UVA student". Fox News Channel. Associated Press. 26 September 2014. Retrieved 26 September 2014. 
  16. ^ Scott Wise, Alix Bryan and Chelsea Rarrick (18 October 2014). "Crew searching for missing UVa. student Hannah Graham finds human remains". WTVR-TV. Retrieved 18 October 2014. 
  17. ^ Graff, Henry (24 October 2014). "Hannah Graham's Parents Visit Old Lynchburg Road Crime Scene". WVIR. Retrieved 24 October 2014. 
  18. ^ Shapiro, T. Rees (18 November 2014). "Hannah Graham cause of death determined, officials withholding details". The Washington Post. Retrieved 18 November 2014. 
  19. ^ AlbemarleCoPolice [@AlbemarleCoPD] (18 November 2014). ""The cause of death is homicidal violence of undetermined etiology. The manner of death is homicide."" (Tweet). Retrieved 19 November 2014 – via Twitter. 
  20. ^ Shapiro, T. Rees (19 September 2014). "Police scrutinize 'person of interest' seen with missing U-Va. student Hannah Graham". Washington Post. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  21. ^ Brandon Shulleeta (20 September 2014). "Police Confirm Person of Interest's Name in Hannah Graham Case". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved 4 October 2014. 
  22. ^ Keneally, Meghan (22 September 2014). "Hannah Graham Searchers Return to Jesse Matthew's Apartment". ABC News. Retrieved 23 September 2014. 
  23. ^ "Clothes taken in search for missing UVa student". Houston Chronicle. Associated Press. 23 September 2014. Retrieved 23 September 2014. 
  24. ^ Good Morning America (19 September 2014). "Missing Virginia Student Hannah Graham May Have Gotten Into Car With Man". ABC News. Retrieved 20 September 2014. 
  25. ^ "Man seen with missing UVA student Hannah Graham faces driving charge". Fox News. Associated Press. 21 September 2014. Retrieved 22 September 2014. 
  26. ^ Crimesider Staff (23 September 2014). "Arrest warrant for suspect in U.Va. missing case". CBS News. Retrieved 23 September 2014. 
  27. ^ Gittens, Hasani (24 September 2014). "Hannah Graham: Suspect Arrested in Case of Missing UVA Student". NBC News. Retrieved 24 September 2014. 
  28. ^ George, Cindy (25 September 2014). "Suspect in missing UVA student's abduction arrested in Galveston Co". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 25 September 2014. 
  29. ^ "Suspect in Hannah Graham Disappearance Tied to 2009 Murder, Police Say". ABC News. September 29, 2014. 
  30. ^ Mitchell, Becca (29 September 2014). "BREAKING: Forensic evidence links Hannah Graham suspect to murdered Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington". WTKR. Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
  31. ^ "What does discovery of remains mean for Hannah Graham suspect Jesse Matthew?". WTVR-TV. 18 October 2014. Retrieved 19 October 2014. 
  32. ^ a b Flaherty, Mary Pat (1 October 2014). "U-Va. suspect Jesse L. Matthew Jr. twice accused of college sex assaults". Washington Post. Retrieved 1 October 2014. 
  33. ^ "Jesse Matthew charged in murder of Morgan Harrington". WDBJ 7. September 15, 2015. Archived from the original on September 16, 2015. 
  34. ^ a b T. Rees Shapiro (2012-12-14). "Jesse Matthew to enter guilty pleas in Graham and Harrington cases". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-05-19. 
  35. ^ a b T. Rees Shapiro; Justin Jouvenal (2012-12-14). "Jesse Matthew pleads guilty in slayings of college students". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-05-19. 
  36. ^ "UPDATE: Jesse Matthew's reckless driving hearing continued to Dec. 1". Wdbj7.com. Retrieved 18 October 2014. 
  37. ^ Wise, Scott; Burns, Jake; French, Laura (February 10, 2015). "Jesse Matthew indicted on murder charge in death of UVa. student Hannah Graham". WTVR. Retrieved February 10, 2015. 
  38. ^ Shoichet, Catherine E. (5 May 2015). "Hannah Graham case: Jesse Matthew charged with capital murder". CNN. Retrieved 5 May 2015. 
  39. ^ "Jesse Matthew Capital Murder Trial Date Set - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather". Nbc29.com. Retrieved 2016-05-19. 
  40. ^ Catherine E. Shoichet (3 March 2016). "Jesse Matthew Jr. pleads guilty to killing Hannah Graham, Morgan Harrington". CNN. Retrieved 20 May 2018. 
  41. ^ Ahmed, Saeed (20 October 2014). "Hannah Graham suspect indicted in 2005 assault". CNN. Retrieved 21 October 2014. 
  42. ^ Circuit Court of Fairfax County (20 October 2014), Indictment for Attempted Capital Murder, Abduction and Sexual Penetration with an Object (PDF), retrieved 21 October 2014 
  43. ^ "Suspect in student kidnapping pleads not guilty". WTOP-FM. 14 November 2014. Retrieved 14 November 2014. 
  44. ^ Jouvenal, Justin (February 6, 2015). "Jesse Matthew rape trial postponed". Washington Post. Retrieved February 10, 2015. 
  45. ^ O'Dell, Larry (18 February 2015). "June trial set for man charged in Virginia student slaying". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  46. ^ Fox, Peggy. "Victim describes brutal attack in Jesse Matthew trial". WUSA9. Retrieved 11 June 2015. 
  47. ^ Shapiro, T. Rees. "Jesse Matthew convicted in 2005 sex assault case in Fairfax". Washington Post. Retrieved 11 June 2015. 
  48. ^ "Matthew Sentenced in 2005 sex assault case in Fairfax". Washington Post. 
  49. ^ "Memorial Erected at UVa in Honor of Hannah Graham". CBS Washington. 28 October 2014. Retrieved 29 October 2014. 
  50. ^ "Innovative Researchers Fighting Gender-Based Violence Win More Than $1 Million". World Bank. Retrieved 2018-04-17.