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Commonwealth’s attorney will order ‘scientific testing’ to rule out Jesse Matthew in Alexis Murphy case

Posted at 10:08 AM, Oct 02, 2014

NELSON COUNTY, Va. -- The Nelson County commonwealth's attorney says additional "scientific testing" will take place following a request from the lawyer of Randy Taylor, the man found guilty of murdering Alexis Murphy.

This comes after Taylor's attorney sent a letter to Nelson County Commonwealth's Attorney Anthony Martin asking for investigators check for a potential link between Hannah Graham abduction suspect Jesse Matthew Jr. and the missing Nelson County teen.

Mike Hallahan was first to confirm to CBS 6 reporter Laura French that he has asked Martin to order new DNA tests in the Alexis Murphy-Randy Taylor case. Additionally, Hallahan asked that investigators probe Matthew's and Murphy's social media accounts to see if they had any contact.

Hallahan told French Thursday morning that he based the request on multiple reports that allege Matthew is “responsible or linked” to the disappearance of multiple young women across the state.

“This is not a fishing expedition, but rather this request is based upon the evidence presented at Randy Taylor’s trial and based upon those new developments relating to Matthew in the news,” Hallahan wrote to the Nelson County commonwealth’s attorney.

Furthermore, Hallahan wrote that Murphy’s family members and friends testified that she would have never gone to Taylor’s home without someone accompanying her. Along those lines, friends testified that she had turned down requests for company the night she went missing which led to speculation that she was going on a date.

“Alexis Murphy’s friends testified that he liked older men (Matthew being about 12 years older) and she was very active on social media, having thousands of friends and followers,” Hallahan wrote.

Additionally, Hallahan argued that no physical evidence was found linking Taylor to the car Murphy was last spotted driving, which was recovered in Charlottesville. Prosecutors had argued that Taylor drove Murphy's vehicle to Charlottesville and then took a cab home.

“There was however some DNA samples collected from the car’s interior that were never identified.”

As a result, Hallahan wants Matthew’s DNA sample compared to the samples recovered from the car Murphy was driving.

“Alexis Murphy’s friends testified that he liked older men (Matthew being about 12 years older) and she was very active on social media, having thousands of friends and followers.”

Randy Taylor and Alexis Murphy

Randy Taylor and Alexis Murphy

However, Martin maintains that the commonwealth’s attorney’s Office, the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office, FBI and Virginia State Police have found no credible evidence linking Jesse Leroy Matthew, Jr. to the Alexis Murphy case. Martin released the following statement Thursday afternoon.

Randy Taylor was the last known person to have had contact with Alexis Murphy on August 3, 2013 shortly before she went missing. All of the physical evidence at trial showing a violent struggle was located inside Randy Taylor’s camper. This physical evidence consisted of a diamond stud, a fingernail fragment, a long black hair that showed signs of being forcibly removed, all of which had Alexis Murphy’s DNA and were found on the floor of Randy Taylor’s camper and the hair was found on Randy Taylor’s pillow.

Alexis Murphy’s shattered cellphone was found in the brush outside Randy Taylor’s camper. The blue T-shirt that Randy Taylor was seen wearing at the Liberty gas station on August 3rd when he was seen talking with Alexis Murphy, was found under Randy Taylor’s sofa inside his camper. That shirt contained Alexis Murphy’s blood and had hair extensions and false eyelashes that had Alexis Murphy’s DNA and Randy Taylor’s DNA balled up inside the shirt.

Randy Taylor denied ever going to Liberty gas station on August 3rd and denied ever seeing Alexis Murphy. Only after authorities found forensic evidence, putting Alexis Murphy inside his camper, did Randy Taylor admit that Alexis Murphy was in his camper but was with a third person. According to Randy Taylor, the “black guy with cornrows” and Alexis Murphy left in separate vehicles and everything was fine.

Within days after Randy Taylor’s arrest for abduction of Alexis Murphy, Randy Taylor and Mr. Hallahan, his attorney, were 100% certain that the black male that Alexis Murphy left with was Dameon Bradley, a thin light-skinned black male, who drove a maroon Chevy caprice. Mr. Hallahan provided law enforcement with a photo of Dameon Bradley who looks absolutely nothing like Jesse Leroy Matthew, Jr. Dameon Bradley testified at Taylor’s trial that he did know Alexis Murphy and they were only friends and he worked at the McDonalds at the Liberty gas station which is a place that Randy Taylor frequented on a daily basis.

At no time did the name Jesse Leroy Matthew, Jr. ever come up by Randy Taylor or Mr. Hallahan until Mathew’s arrest in Hannah Graham several days ago.

However, in order to dispel any further speculation, I will be meeting in the coming days with investigators in the Murphy case to address the concerns outlined in Mr. Hallahan’s recent letter. Even though the evidence on Randy Taylor and Randy Taylor alone in the Alexis Murphy case is clear, the Commonwealth will make sure that scientific testing is done in order to bring closure to the speculation.

Taylor was convicted of Murphy’s murder, even though her body was never found.

Jesse Matthew

Jesse Matthew

DNA links Matthew to Morgan Harrington Case

Sources close to the investigation confirmed to CBS 6 reporter Laura French that Matthew has been forensically linked to the 2009 disappearance of 20-year-old Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington,

Those sources indicated that forensic evidence belonging to Graham suspect Jesse Matthew Jr., matched forensic evidence collected during the Harrington investigation.

The sources would not indicate what Matthew may or may not have done with Harrington, however the sources indicated that the forensic evidence match showed Harrington had some sort of contact with Matthew the night she disappeared outside John Paul Jones arena on October 17, 2009. Her remains were found in January 2010 on an Albemarle County farm.

Officials at Christopher Newport University confirmed they opened a disciplinary file on Jesse Leroy Matthew, Jr.  for a reported sexual assault that happened in 2003, when he was briefly a student there and a member of the football team.

Matthew, age 32, is currently charged in the abduction, with intent to defile, of missing University of Virginia second-year student Hannah Graham.

Matthew attended the CNU from January 2003 through October 15, 2003. He was a member of the football team from August 14 to Sept. 12, 2003.

“Students don’t usually leave in the second month of the semester or leave the football team within a month,” wrote a university official in a press release.

There is a single file related to Matthew at CNU. However, the University said they are withholding this record pursuant to the exception from mandatory disclosure, in cooperation with law-enforcement agencies.

Matthew also was questioned in connection with an alleged sexual assault nearly 12 years ago, authorities said.

But no charges were filed because the woman didn’t want to go forward with the case and investigators determined there wasn’t enough evidence to arrest Matthew, said Michael Doucette, the commonwealth’s attorney for Lynchburg, Virginia.

According to a statement from Lynchburg police, the woman reported she was raped on the campus of Liberty University on October 17, 2002.

Matthew told authorities that the woman consented, Doucette said, adding that there were no witnesses.

Matthew’s father spoke publicly, for the first time, to CBS 6. He said his son would not have harmed Graham.

“For a big man, he’s as gentle as they come,” Jesse Matthew Sr. said. “The only thing I could see, him, maybe trying to give the girl a ride or help her out.

“To kill or hurt somebody, that’s not my son.”

Last week Matthew appeared before Galveston County Judge Mark Henry on a charge of giving false information to a Texas police officer.

Matthew’s Virginia-based lawyer had little to say about his client when approached this week outside his Charlottesville office.

“I am Mr. Matthew’s attorney,” James Camblos said. “I was hired on Saturday. That’s the only thing that I’m going to confirm at this point. The family and I — nobody is making any statements at this point in time. We might later on, but right now we are not.”

Matthew willingly went to a police station last weekend, along with several family members, walking through the front door and asking for a lawyer, Longo said. There was no warrant for his arrest at that time.

Matthew and the lawyer spoke and then left, the police chief said, giving detectives no clearer picture of what may have happened the day Graham disappeared. Because he has retained counsel, police cannot question him.

Incidents Jesse Matthew Jr.  has been connected to:

  • Oct. 17, 2002 – Alleged sexual assault at Liberty University
  • Sept. 7, 2003 – Reported CNU assault
  • Sept. 24, 2005 – Northern Virginia rape (forensic evidence linked to Morgan Harrington case)
  • Oct. 17, 2009 – Morgan Harrington disappearance
  • Sept. 13, 2014 – Hannah Graham disappearance

Law enforcement investigating cases for possible connection to Matthew:

  • July 24, 2003 — Autumn Day in Newport News
  • Sept. 7, 2003 – Sophia Rivera in Newport News
  • August 26, 2009 – Heidi Childs and David Metzler, in Blacksburg
  • Oct. 10, 2009 – Cassandra Morton, not far from Lynchburg
  • Sept. 13, 2010 – Samantha Clarke, in Orange County

Cases unsolved in the area near Charlottesville 

  • Jan. 24, 2010 – Joan Cook, Roanoke County
  • Nov. 21, 2011 — Lauren Smith, Madison County
  • Nov. 20, 2012 — Dashad Sage Smith, Charlottesville
  • August 3, 2013 – Alexis Murphy, Shipman (Randy Taylor jailed for this, body never found)

Anyone with info is asked to call the tipline at 434-295-3851. All surveillance videos can be seen here. All reports filed on this case can be found here.

Depend on CBS 6 News and WTVR.com for the latest updates on this important story.