Jesse Matthew Jr., the man linked to the deaths of two Virginia college students, has been indicted on a murder charge in the death of Hannah Graham.
Matthew has been charged with first-degree murder in connection with last year’s disappearance and death of University of Virginia student Graham, the Albemarle County, Va., prosecutor said at a press conference Tuesday morning. Matthew had previously been charged with abduction with an intent to defile.
“The prosecution for the abduction and murder of Hannah will bring Mr. Matthew to justice for these crimes,” prosecutor Denise Lunsford said. “These indictments signal the beginning of the next phase in what has been an incredibly difficult process.”
Lunsford pointed out that Matthew had not been charged with capital murder. While she wouldn’t go into specifics about the decision, she said a “great deal of serious thought went into this determination, including the impact on the community, the Grahams and the need to provide Mr. Matthew with a fair trial.”
Graham vanished the morning of Sept. 13 and her remains were discovered a few weeks later. The college student had been at a bar in Charlottesville the night of her disappearance, and police released surveillance videos that show her running and stumbling.
Police said last year that forensic evidence also links Matthew to the 2009 disappearance and death of Morgan Harrington, a 20-year-old Virginia Tech student. Harrington disappeared during a Oct. 17, 2009, concert on the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville and her remains were found the following January in a field.
At the press conference, Lunsford said both Graham and Harrington’s families were made aware of the charges. There are no pending charges against Matthew in the Harrington case, Lunsford said.
“The case involving Hannah Graham was ready to be charged first,” Lunsford said.
Matthew is scheduled to appear on the murder charge on Feb. 18 at 11 a.m. The appearance is expected to be over video.
Matthew is also scheduled for a Friday hearing in connection to a separate 2005 case. An indictment, filed in Fairfax County, Va., Circuit Court in October, alleges that Matthew abducted, sexually assaulted and tried to kill a woman in 2005.