CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia — DNA evidence links Jesse Matthew, a suspect in this month’s disappearance of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham, to the death of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington, who disappeared in 2009, a law enforcement source told CNN Monday.
Virginia State Police had said earlier that the two cases were connected by a “forensic link” but did not elaborate. Almost from the start, speculation was raised about the possibility of a connection between Graham’s disappearance and Harrington’s death.
“Certainly the question has arisen. It’s certainly a legitimate question,” Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo told reporters last week.
Harrington was a 20-year-old Virginia Tech student when she went missing after attending a Metallica concert in Charlottesville in October 2009. Her remains were found on a farm months later.
No arrests have been made in Harrington’s case, and the cause of her death is still under investigation.
Graham, a student at the University of Virginia, was last seen September 13 in an area of Charlottesville known as the Downtown Mall. Police have asked owners of large parcels of property in surrounding counties to search their land and report back.
Authorities are offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Graham, 18, who was a second-year student at the university.
Investigators say they believe Matthew was the last person with Graham. He is charged with abduction with the intent to defile in the case, according to Charlottesville police.
The last major development in the Harrington case came in 2010, when her slaying was connected to the kidnapping and sexual assault of another woman in Fairfax Virginia, in 2005.
That woman, who survived her ordeal, was able to provide police with enough of a description to make a sketch. That sketch is the closest thing to resolution that Harrington’s family has had.
Police at the time did not give the name of the woman who gave the description and said only that “forensic evidence” linked the two.
The revelation that Matthew may be linked to Harrington’s death, and the fact that Harrington’s death is linked to the kidnapping and rape of the woman in Fairfax, raises even more questions. Police have not publicly connected the dots except to say that Matthew’s arrest has given them a break in the investigation of Harrington’s death
Matthew was being held in isolation in a Virginia jail cell.