Bring Hannah Home


The disappearance of Hannah Graham and eventual capture of suspect, Jesse Matthew has lead to new breakthroughs in cold cases throughout Virginia.

Hannah Graham, an 18 year old University of Virginia student, has not been seen in almost a month. Graham was with her friends socializing around campus on the night of Friday September 12. She left a party alone and intoxicated and had sent her friends a text around 1:00 am saying she was trying to find her way to another party but was lost.  This was the last known conversation between her and her friends. Graham was seen on surveillance videos walking an outdoor campus mall. Hannah was seen with a man at a popular bar, Tempo, around 1:20 am. Witnesses say she was later seen leaving with the man, later identified as Jesse Matthew. Hannah Graham has not been seen since.

Thirty-two year old Charlottesville native Jesse Matthew is not a stranger to law enforcement. Matthew has both trespassing and a nonrelated charge of grand larceny on his criminal record. In October 2002, Matthew withdrew from Liberty University after being accused of rape by a female student. In January 2003, Matthew returned to school, this time at Christopher Newport University. He later left college again after being accused of sexual assault. Both of these cases were reviewed by campus police, but neither of the cases was pursued on a higher level. Matthew was named a person of interest in Hannah’s case on September 20 and was later taken into custody on September 24 in Galveston, Texas where he fled. Matthew was charged with abduction and intent to defile.

On October 17, 2009, Morgan Harrington, a 20 year old Virginia Tech student, was last seen crossing a bridge on the UVA campus after attending a Metallica concert at John Paul Jones Arena. Friends of Harrington said she had left the concert to use the restroom, and when she did not return, they worried and called her. Harrington told them she was outside of the arena and was not being allowed in because of re-entry policies. Harrington assured her friends that she would find a way home. Morgan Harrington’s body was found three months later on a farm in Albemarle County. DNA on her body matched DNA found on a Fairfax rape victim four years earlier. Despite the connection, there was no match found in the DNA database. On September 29, four days after Jesse Matthew’s arrest, Charlottesville police released that Matthew’s DNA was a match to the DNA found on Harrington’s body. According to CBS, Matthew was working as a cab driver the night Morgan Harrington disappeared.

Hannah Graham and Morgan Harrington are two of five girls who have gone missing within miles of route 29, the main highway in Charlottesville, in the last five years.  Harrington is the only body that has been recovered.  According to CBS, Samantha Ann Clarke, age 19, vanished after leaving her home in Orange County in September 2010. Nineteen year old DaShad Laquinn Smith disappeared from Charlottesville in November 2012, and Alexis Murphy, age 17, was last seen near Lynchburg in August of 2013. Although Murphy’s body was never found, Randolph Taylor was convicted in May of Murphy’s abduction and murder. Taylor’s lawyer has requested DNA from the case to be reviewed to check for a possible connection to Jesse Matthew. The Campbell County Sheriff’s Office is also looking for any possible links between Matthew and another murder in Lynchburg of Cassandra Morton. Morton’s body was found in November 2009 in a shallow grave on Candler’s Mountain, not far from Liberty University, reports CBS. Campbell County Sheriff, Steve Hutcherson told CBS there is s no evidence now to link Matthew to Morton. Authorities in Newport News are also reopening the cold cases of Autumn Wind and Sophie May Rivera who both went missing in 2003 while Jesse Matthew was attending Christopher Newport nearby.

While Graham’s disappearance is tragic and heart-wrenching, the case could possibly uncover some much needed answers for other local families. According to NBC, Morgan Harrington’s father, Dan, said that while the arrest of Matthew did offer some hope of solving the disappearances, the search for Hannah is the most important aspect of the investigation. Groups of more than 120 people including law enforcement have been working hard to Bring Hannah Home.