NELSON COUNTY, Va. — There is no evidence Hannah Graham abduction suspect Jesse Matthew Jr. was involved in the disappearance and death of missing Nelson County teen Alexis Murphy, Nelson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Anthony Martin clarified in a statement issued Wednesday morning.
“In recent days, there has been much discussion in news reports and on social media as to whether or not there is any connection between the case involving Jesse Leroy Matthew, Jr., charged in connection with missing UVa. student Hannah Graham and Randy Allen Taylor who was convicted in May 2014 for abduction with intent to defile and the first degree murder of Alexis Murphy,” Martin wrote.
Specifically, he said, Matthew Jr. was not the man Taylor tried to “implicate in his trial of being with Alexis Murphy when she left Taylor’s camper in August 2013.” Taylor implicated another man, who was later cleared, Martin said. Martin said neither Matthew’s name nor any vehicle that matched the description of Matthew’s car came up during the Taylor investigation and subsequent.
Despite those facts, Martin said, the FBI and Virginia State Police re-examined security camera footage taken of Murphy the day she disappeared to clear up any lingering questions.
“Some have questioned whether or not the surveillance video from Liberty Gas Station the night Alexis Murphy disappeared show her walking behind the back of an object some say looks like Jesse Matthews’ vehicle,” Martin said. “FBI and Virginia State Police have re-examined that footage in light of these concerns and are confident that the orange object is not a vehicle, but a portion of a sign hanging from the window.”
Taylor was convicted of Murphy’s murder, even though Murphy’s body was never found.
Members of the Murphy family were among the more than 1,000 volunteers who searched for Graham last weekend.
“We wanted the whole world to search for Lexi,” Alexis’ great-aunt Trina Murphy said when asked why the Murphy family volunteered for the search. “This has been a tough week for our family too.”
On Tuesday, September 23, Charlottesville Police announced Matthew Jr. was wanted for abduction with intent to defile Hannah Graham.
Graham, an 18-year-old University of Virginia student, was reported missing on Sunday, Sept. 14, but no one has seen her since early Saturday, Sept. 13.
Police said that in addition to his home state of Virginia, Matthew had known associates in Washington D.C., Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York.
A $50,000 reward is now being offered in hopes of soliciting tips that could lead police to Graham.
Anyone with information regarding Graham’s whereabouts should call (434) 295-3851 or 1-800-THE-LOST.