ALBEMARLE, Va. — Jesse Matthew Jr., age 32, sits in jail charged with the abduction, with intent to defile, of 18-year-old University of Virginia student Hannah Graham, and for the attempted capital murder and sexual assault of a Fairfax woman in 2005.
The DNA evidence that police sources say links Matthew to the Fairfax assault is also linked to the disappearance and death of Morgan Harrington, the Virginia Tech student who vanished in Charlottesville in 2009. Her remains were found 101 days later, on a piece of farmland roughly four miles away from where remains believed to be Graham’s were recently found.
Matthew has been linked to at least five alleged sexual assaults, and potentially several others that fall in line with a seasonal pattern, which has triggered a flurry of critics who believe Matthew is also connected to 17-year-old Alexis Murphy’s murder and abduction. Other cases are being re-examined.
One of those cases is Murphy, who disappeared August 3, 2013, when she left her Nelson County home for Lynchburg, to do some shopping. Though Murphy has never been found, DNA evidence was recovered in the case, which ultimately led to the murder conviction of Randy Allen Taylor.
Taylor, who is serving two life sentences for the murder of Murphy, asked for a plea deal that reduced his time to just 20 years — if he revealed the location of Murphy’s body.
Recently though, Taylor’s attorney asked that Murphy’s car be tested for evidence that could link her to Matthew. And he wants police to analyze social media accounts to determine if there were any connections between Murphy and Matthew.
Last month Nelson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Anthony Martin stated there was no evidence Matthew was connected to Murphy’s disappearance.
Still, there has been an avalanche of public speculation.
Here are the five things people keep forgetting:
1. Taylor attempted to implicate another man, saying that man was with Murphy when she left Taylor’s camper. That man was cleared by police. We will not name him because he is not a suspect, but his name is not Jesse Matthew.
2. That man had cornrows, and allegedly sold Alexis Murphy marijuana. Repeat, he distinctly had cornrows, not dreadlocks as Matthew has. Again, that man was questioned by police, and found innocent.
3. That man drove a “burgundy Caprice with 22-inch wheels,” not a burnt orange Chrysler Coupe like Jesse Matthew drove.
4. The surveillance video from Liberty Gas Station the night Alexis Murphy disappeared shows her walking behind the back of an object some say looks like Jesse Matthew’s vehicle. It isn’t.
“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,” said Martin.
5. People are forgetting the list of evidence against Taylor includes a bloody t-shirt found in his camper with Murphy’s DNA, eyelashes and ripped out extensions, her smashed cellphone found on his property and video of the two speaking at Liberty gas station the night she disappeared. That’s a lot of evidence, and wound up being enough for a murder charge.
The Murphy family has gone on record stating that they do not believe Matthew was involved in the disappearance and death of Alexis. Essentially, law enforcement is thoroughly checking all their bases. In addition to Taylor’s DNA, other unknown DNA was found inside Murphy’s vehicle. That evidence will be checked against Matthew’s DNA.
But the other above facts can’t be thrown out the window.