CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Charlottesville Police announced that Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr. is now wanted for abduction with intent to defile Hannah Elizabeth Graham, along with two counts of reckless driving.
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.
"We reached that point that the Commonwealth felt we had probable cause to seek an arrest warrant," Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo said at Tuesday's 7 p.m. press conference. With this charge, Matthew becomes a suspect, charged with a Class 2 felony for abduction with intent to defile.
Police conducted a second search of Matthew's Albemarle County apartment in Hessian Hills on Monday. Longo said the specific clothing they were looking for was removed from the apartment and "sent to a lab for analysis." Additionally three bags of evidence were removed.
The chief said Tuesday that police are still waiting on certain information and did not detail the results of any forensic testing on evidence taken from Matthew's car or apartment, as was originally expected, other than to say they had enough evidence to issue a warrant.
"Once we have that information, we will be very forthright," Longo said. "You know we have been working very hard over the past almost nine days, in relation to this case."
CBS 6 Legal Analyst Todd Stone said that it only takes probable cause to charge for abduction, but that there must be some evidence suggesting sexual nature because of the "intent to defile."
On Sunday police had issued an arrest warrant against Matthews on two counts of reckless driving. After he walked into the police station on Saturday to meet with a lawyer, police said Matthews got into a car and drove away from the station with another person. While investigators followed the vehicle, they said the car drove off at a dangerous speed.
"State and federal authorities who were overtly monitoring his movement saw him get into a car and leave a location to Albemarle County at a high rate of speed, driving in a matter that was reckless and placed others in danger,” Chief Longo said. Longo said he would not speculate on why Matthew sped off, but said investigators are “aggressively pursuing his location.”
Hannah Graham's disappearance and Matthew's description
Graham was last seen on surveillance camera early Saturday, Sept. 13. Her friends last heard from her around 1:20 a.m. that Saturday, when she sent a text saying she was lost in an area where she could not possibly have been, according to police.
The text said she was lost near her apartment, at 14th and Wertland Streets near the college, but surveillance video shows her over a mile away, leaving a restaurant named Tempo off of 5th Street.
Graham was seen leaving Tempo with Matthew, who police said bought drinks for them. Graham was also spotted a little earlier, walking eastbound down Main Street on the Downtown Mall, with Matthew's arm on her waist.
Prior to that he was seen walking westbound along the Charlottesville downtown mall where numerous shops, bars and restaurants are located. In the video shown below, Matthew cuts across the mall and begins heading eastbound, following Graham.
Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr. is described as a black, dreadlocked male, 6’2″ and 32 years of age, weighing around 270 pounds. Matthew is reportedly driving his sister's vehicle, a light blue Nissan Sentra with Virginia plates and the tags VAC4575.
Now that he has been charged with a felony crime, more police agencies can become involved, said Stone.
Police said that in addition to his home state of Virginia, he has 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.