RICHMOND, Va. ― The investigation into the case of a missing University of Virginia student has provided a “significant break” in the unsolved 2009 death of another young woman who disappeared from the Charlottesville campus, Virginia State Police said Monday.
The announcement of the new lead in Morgan Harrington’s case came as authorities continue to search for Hannah Graham, 18, who disappeared Sept. 13.
“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.,” state police said in a written statement. “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.”
The statement provided no specifics about the forensic evidence and said state police would have no further comment. Charlottesville police had searched Matthew’s car and apartment, taking several items of clothing from the home.
Matthew’s attorney, James Camblos, did not immediately respond to a telephone message.
Harrington, a student at Virginia Tech, disappeared after leaving U.Va.’s John Paul Jones Arena during a Metallica concert on Oct. 17, 2009. Her remains were found in January 2010 in a hayfield in Albemarle County.
Police have said they searched that location for Graham, who was reported missing a day after she was captured by surveillance videos as she walked unaccompanied in Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall. Police have identified Matthew, a hospital worker, as the last person to be seen with Graham early on the morning of Sept. 13.
Matthew was returned from Texas late Friday after he was found on a beach near Galveston, Texas. He is being held without bond at the Charlottesville-Albemarle Regional Jail.
Matthew is expected to make his first court appearance on Thursday to face a charge of abduction with intent to defile.