- The Washington Times - Monday, September 29, 2014

The man arrested in connection with the disappearance of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham has provided a “significant break” in the five-year-old unsolved killing of another young woman, authorities said Monday.

Virginia State Police said the arrest of Jesse L. Matthew Jr., 32, gave investigators a “new forensic link” to follow in the 2009 slaying of Morgan Harrington, a 20-year-old Virginia Tech student.

State police did not elaborate on the connection, but said investigators had been “aggressively pursuing” the Roanoke, Virginia, resident’s disappearance and death, and there was “still a great deal of work to be done in regards to this investigation.”

“Right now, the public’s focus needs to remain on helping Charlottesville Police locate and bring Hannah Graham home,” police said.

Ms. Graham, 18, was last seen Sept. 13 in the downtown mall area of Charlottesville. Security footage from the area showed Ms. Graham with Mr. Matthew at about 1 a.m.

Mr. Matthew was arrested Sept. 24 in Galveston, Texas, after police received calls about a suspicious person camping on a nearby beach. He had fled Charlottesville earlier in the month.

Mr. Matthew was arrested and charged with abduction with intent to defile, and is scheduled to appear Thursday in court in Charlottesville. A call to the office of Mr. Matthew’s attorney, Jim Camblos, was not returned.

Speaking to The Roanoke Times, Dan Harrington said he and his wife, Gil, were “relieved that justice for Morgan may be coming.”

Mr. Harrington did not share what the police told him, saying “the focus needs to be on trying to find Hannah Graham.”

D.C. criminal defense attorney David Benowitz said a forensic link can be any number of things; however, “you would hope it would be something, if they’re putting it out there, they believe it’s solid.”

Generally, a forensic connection means “somehow objects are linked scientifically through some sort of analysis,” Mr. Benowitz said. “It could be fingerprints that link one scene to another. You could have blood evidence. It could be varying degrees of linkage,” including blood or hair.

Charlottesville police said they had no comment on the state police’s announcement because the Harrington killing is a state case, and they are not investigating it.

Harrington, an aspiring teacher, went missing after an October 2009 Metallica concert in Charlottesville. Her skeletal remains were found about three months later in a field roughly 10 miles from the University of Virginia’s John Paul Jones Arena.

Earlier this month, Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo said the field was searched just in case the two disappearances were linked, but at the time police were not treating them as related crimes.

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