‘He’s as gentle as they come,’ says dad of abduction suspect in Hannah Graham case

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The father of Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr. said in an interview with CBS 6 that police have the wrong guy.

“To kill or hurt somebody, that's not my son,” said Jesse Matthew Sr., from his room where a picture of his son hangs.

He described the two of them as very close, and said they enjoy watching football together. He said that's what the two did together, the last time he saw his son – two weeks ago.

His son is a suspect in the missing person’s case of Hannah Graham, an 18-year-old University of Virginia student who hasn’t been seen since early Saturday, Sept. 13.

Police said the last person she was seen with was Matthew, who witnesses said bought drinks for himself and Hannah at a restaurant in downtown Charlottesville.

“For a big man, he's as gentle as they come,” his dad said.

And he’s not the only person saying that.

Matthew played football for Liberty University, and most recently volunteered part time as a football coach at a prestigious Christian Liberal Arts and Sciences private school.

His dad pointed out that shows how caring and helpful his son is, not a violent person.

“The only thing I could maybe see him trying to give the girl a ride to help her out,” he said.

Matthew Sr. said he had urged his son to turn himself into police, and that he was worried for his safety.

“Oh we're scared they might hurt him.”

But Matthew Jr. did not listen to his dad, who was emphatic that he had no idea where his son had gone.

“If I did, I would go to him and bring him in myself,” he said.

Now that Matthew Jr. is in custody, his dad said he hopes the son he considers a “teddy bear” will be cleared of any wrongdoing.

“We'll be right behind you no matter what,” he said to his son.

What's next? 

Hannah Graham’s location is still unknown, and she’s been missing eleven days.

“I believe Jesse Matthew was the last person she was seen with before she vanished off the face of the Earth,” the police chief said Sunday. “We want to talk to him.”

Graham and Matthew were seen leaving the bar together, and Matthew drove away in his Chrysler coupe that was parked near the bar, and police said they have “every reason to believe” Graham was in the car, too.

Matthew came into police headquarters on Saturday, Sept. 20, and asked to speak with a lawyer.

He hired James Camblos, the attorney said. But then Matthew left without speaking to police, or his lawyer. Police who were overtly following Matthew said he took off at such high speeds they could not safely pursue. At that point police issued two misdemeanor warrants for speeding.

Shortly thereafter he was named a person of interest. Then two days later, as forensic evidence from Matthew's car and home came back to police, a felony arrest warrant was issued.

That is when Matthew was charged for abduction with intent to defile -- more than 10 days since she was last seen with him leaving a restaurant.

The city of Charlottesville, the University of Virginia and the local community have contributed $100,000 to a reward for “information leading to the cause” of Graham’s disappearance.

“Every person within the sound of my voice, help us find Hannah,” said Charlottesville Police Chief Longo, at the press conference announcing Matthew had been captured in Texas.

He also said the case is no where near over and that there is a long road ahead once Matthew is extradited. The chief said they will make an announcement when he is brought back.

Anyone with info in this case is asked to call the tipline at 434-295-3851.


    • Barbara B Leonard

      Well with the newest information I guess the dad needs to rethink his comments about his gentle son. It is a shame that they had to wait forever to find Morgan and the least this guy can do is tell where Hannah is.

  • Russell

    Get my facts from the white folk that claimed they believed in Christianity at the same time they believed in Slavery and torture and the beatings,killings,apartheid of black people in the USA. Which it wasn’t too long ago that a man like JM would be lynched for nothing more then refusing to answer any more questions.

  • guest13579

    So the fact that Jesse was the last known person to be with Hannah has nothing to do with why they are pursuing him, right? It’s only because of his race, right? According to Jesse’s own family he admitted he was with her late that night. Plus they were on surveillance camera together. And they haven’t been able to find any communication from Hannah after the time they were pictured together, or anyone who saw her after that, or any surveillance videos that show her after that. Jesse’s race is irrelevant here – he just happens to be the last person she was seen with as of now. If she was last seen with a white person then the police would be pursuing that person instead. The first person they were pursuing as a person of interest from the surveillance videos was white, but he went in and told his story and was cleared. Jesse was seen with Hannah after that. It has nothing to do with his race.

  • athynz

    While I hope that his father is right and he’s not guilty there are still too many unanswered questions here. Why didn’t he even talk to the lawyer he hired? Why did he recklessly speed off from the police station? Why did he leave the state? All of those actions taken together don’t paint a very convincing picture of his innocence.

  • kevin

    everyday,every story we have some black american come on here bashing whites.blah blah,once you have reached equal then we can talk.until then facts and stats on whose better and at the top is just a search away.Arguing with you is pointless,ok.thanks though for the laugh.

  • Wiserman

    I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic or not, but the “a black person do” part of it leads me to believe it’s the latter, and in that case you’re an idiot.

  • Wiserman

    Just checked a map, Jesse’s went to Red Hill Elementary which is 1.6 miles from the entrance to the access road to Anchorage Farm where the Harrington girl’s body was found. The home he grew up in had to be near there and was likely familiar with the area/land. Harrington was prevented from reentering the concert that night so she went hitchhiking to get home. It was a Metallica concert, a lot of people in attendance and a lot of people needing cabs. Guess who was a Yellow cab driver at that time? Yup, Jesse Matthew. I’ll bet very few cabbies weren’t on their way or already parked outside. Harrington likely didn’t want to spend the $$ on a cab but when Jesse saw her hitchhiking he pulled over, offered her a free ride, “I’m already going there,” she got in and… I’m speculating because these circumstances are coincidental, for sure, but we’ll find out for certain soon when his DNA is extracted and we’ll get to see if he raped the woman in Fairfax, raped and killed Harrington, and whatever happened to Graham we just don’t know yet.

    • Wiserman

      Oh, I also forgot about the woman, Cassandra Morton, who was killed then dumped next to Liberty University, the same school Jesse was booted out of after he allegedly raped a girl. All I was able to find on that case was she was in the woods for more than a month and the cops found traces of her DNA on a ’96 Chrysler Coupe, Jesse drives a ’98 Chrysler Coupe, so either the wrong year or a typo.

      • rsw5q

        It was a 1996 Chrysler Sedan – the car had been impounded. Not only the wrong year, but the wrong body style. Nice try, but no connection.

  • Wisewoman

    Yeah, Richard Evonitz’s father was also in denial. Thank goodness for observant people. The Charlottesville area has been gaining a reputation for young women going missing and not found alive since the early 80’s when Paula Chandler, rest her soul still has not gotten justice. Say, remember the 29 stalker? That having been said, young women need to be more aware of their surroundings and not make themselves so vunerable to PREDATORS!!!

  • destardi

    The reporters aren’t doing their jobs here; read up on Jesse’s timeline.prior to meeting Hannah that night. Pulled a woman’s socks off, kept touching/harassing 2 women who were with a friend of his (last name Johnson), picked up a male friend.of.his and pulled.his hamstring, just aggressive and totally ignorant of.social behavior. Obnoxiously bumping into women on purpose, hitting on a guys wife right in front of him bumming cigarettes off of people that he just acted a fool to. Gentle giant my a s s

  • The truth

    The only problem this dad has is the girl is missing… Witness said they saw hannah get in his car.. He says she went her way and he went his way.. So far Dad your Son is a bare face liar and looking more like a Punk the longer times go’s by….

  • seektherapy

    Hello .. Hello..Hello ! Mr. Mathews are you out there? It’s time you realized, if Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy or Jeffrey Dahmer were judged on their character ONLY… all three would have been set free and the body count would have been a few hundred or a thousand for each ! Now put your opinion into sync and get back and really thing..

  • DEVO

    I don’t think he did it. I really think this man is educated and scared as any one would be. In reports he was proclaimed as guilty with out media coming out and saying it. I almost believed he was guilty in the reports my self and from the directions the police department and media were going with it being a huge black man and small young white girl. After trying to put my self in his shoes and analyzing the scenario which is hard for me being a white women I don’t think he did it at all. Maybe I am wrong, but I am pretty savvy and met my fair share of criminals in my life. The girl was comfortable she knew him. There was no sign of threat but there is a puzzle piece missing and he has more answers. Maybe it was accidental or maybe he let her walk home. But I can’t believe this young man killed her purposely if at all. People we are not dealing with some hood rat he is a educated well diverse black guy. There are plenty off little white girls he had access to in this area come on? TO THE IGNORANT MESSAGES OF THE PERSON BEFOFE THAT POSTED SOUNDING LIKE HE LIVES IN THE 1950’S AND PROBABLY WOULD KILL HER HIM SELF AND PIN IT ON A BLACK MAN BECAUSE HE CAN. This “ONE” is not someone off the streets, he is a man with a loving family. Not that that means anything but in a way it kind of does. I have been to this area and they are snobby and rich. Very plain looking high society people in their own minds and the only violence is drugs. They have a ten page or more news paper with mug shots of people throwing peace signs and posing for selfies like they are posing for face book. Not every day major killings and shootings. They knew each other they were probably dating and she ran to him after she left a party. They obviously didn’t just meet.. He also waking in willingly with family to the police department because he saw which way this was going and was the last person seen with her.THEN WALKED OUT AFTER WHAT HE EXPERIENCED IN THERE AND BAILED. HE TOOK OFF AND FLED THE STATE. It looks suspect and I think there is more information that he will give is. I pray and hope this little girl is ok but I hope that the police are not putting all their eggs in this basket and still out searching for other suspects. It is very weird and not coincidental that five young girls in tis area have disappeared in the last five years.

    • Blackbeered

      What anybody “thinks” shouldn’t matter. As we all [should] know, our justice system was built on the presumption of innocence.
      We’re not aware of any FACTS in this case that would suggest this guy did anything criminal. [On the other hand, we have facts that Graham and others did, but that hasn’t been made an issue.] The only FACT revealed, and it may be the only FACT the cops have, is that Matthew is the last person to have been seen with Graham [which doesn’t mean, necessarily, that he was the last person to be with her]. On Thursday’s hearing, the cops will have to show more [probable cause] or Matthew will be released.
      While I said earlier that what anyone thinks shouldn’t matter, the Randy Taylor case showed that a jury can convict a man without any evidence of a crime having been committed … there’s no possible lower threshold for conviction.
      Is anyone surprised that more and more wrongly-convicted people are being released from prison nationwide [at a huge expense to taxpayers]? As the general intelligence level in this country erodes, it’s time to scrap the jury system as we know it … either have intelligent “professional” juries or none at all.

  • dune boon

    Just threaten riots and looting and he will go free.No evidence on RT either but he got convicted.I do not think he ever told them he knew where the body was.More lies to make it look like the criminal DA is foing his job.

  • Just Wondering

    Has anyone else noticed the similarity between the sketches and the father? They look identical, do they not!?! Any possibility Jesse Sr. is responsible?

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