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Morgan Harrington’s dad to killer Jesse Matthew: ‘We struggle to proceed in a world devoid of joy’

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Jesse Matthew Jr., the killer of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington, confessed to the crime in a plea deal Wednesday afternoon. As part of the condition of the plea, the Harrington's family read a statement before the court. Matthew's confession came more than six years after Harrington's murder.

Below is the statement prepared by the family of Morgan Harrington. Harrington was a 20-year-old student who went missing in October 2009 after attending a Metallica concert in Charlottesville. Her remains were discovered on a nearby farm in January 2010. It was not until  2015 that a grand jury indicted Jesse Matthew on charges of first-degree murder and abduction with the intent to defile in the Harrington case.

Harrington was not Matthew's first victim. He was convicted last year of a 2005 rape and attempted murder. He also confessed Wednesday to the first-degree murder of Hannah Graham, another Virginia college student who was murdered in September 2014.

Statement read before the court on Wednesday, March 2: 

Thank you for allowing Gil and me to address the Court.

This is Morgan Dana Harrington, our precious daughter, a beautiful, smart and talented young woman who had a bright future ahead of her. Morgan loved and was loved, she laughed, she danced, she was the world’s best hugger, and she was so alive.

This is who Jesse Matthew abducted and murdered on October 17th, 2009. In one split second, Jesses Matthew’s needs and actions altered the course of Morgan’s life, our family unit, a community’s safety, his future and his family’s future.

Since the Sunday when I notified the University of Virginia that Morgan was missing, our family has felt the pain of this loss acutely, every second, of every day in the 6.5 years since that wicked act occurred. We cannot comprehend the selfish and inhumane action that took place that evening and we anguish over the suffering Morgan experience that night.  We have seen Morgan’s broken bones and cannot comprehend what one human could have so desperately needed to have hurt and murdered our daughter.

We sorrow for ourselves, the happily ever after future we anticipated will never happen. We ache for our son Alex, who became an only child at age 22. Jesse Matthew robbed us of Morgan and our joy. He robbed Morgan of her future, her potential to educate others, to be married, have children and to grow old. Morgan received mortal injury at Jesse Mathew’s hand on October 17, 2009 and in that same moment our family received disabling damage as well. Jesse Matthew’s actions have wounded us and we have all suffered physical, emotional, and psychological challenges as a direct result of Morgan's murder. We struggle to proceed in a world that has gone gray, flat, and is devoid of joy.

We have used Jessie Matthew’s outrageous actions to build something despite our pain and loss. We have built a school in Africa in Morgan’s name and although she will never teach, young African children will learn, we have funded a scholarship for medical student to help train the next generation of doctors and we have started Help Save The Next Girl to educate women and men to be aware of predators like Jesse Matthew.  Yes, we have suffered and we are wounded but we have not let Jesse Matthew destroy or define us.

Our little girl, Morgan was killed by Jesse Matthew. How can that be? The brutality and intentionality of Morgan's murder pierces our every day, and will continue to do so until we join her.

How could he? Why would he?