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Warrant reveals DNA connection between Jesse Matthew and Morgan Harrington

Posted at 4:57 PM, Nov 24, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-25 08:39:08-05

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Jesse Matthew Jr.'s DNA was found on the black "Pantera" shirt Morgan Harrington wore the night she disappeared outside John Paul Jones area in Charlottesville on October 17, 2009, according to a search warrant obtained by CBS 6 reporter Laura French.

While we previously knew investigators had evidence that linked Matthew, who is also the suspect in the abduction of 18-year-old University of Virginia student Hannah Graham, to Harrington, the search warrant revelation is the first specific confirmation of that evidence.

"There was a large diffuse of stain on the shirt," the search warrant indicated. "A DNA mixture profile was developed....on the shirt and searched against the Virginia DNA Data Bank. Search results indicated that the contributor of a foreign DNA profile, indicative of a male contributor, which was developed from a fingernail scraping of a female victim who was sexually assaulted by a male subject in a 2005 City of Fairfax, Virginia case, could not be eliminated as a contributor to the mixture profile taken from Harrington's shirt."

Matthew has recently been charged in connection to the 2005 sexual assault case.

Charlottesville Police then submitted a "wooden tip from a cigar butt" that Matthew had his wallet to the state crime lab.

"A DNA profile was developed from the 'wooden tip from a cigar butt' and could not be eliminated as a contributor to the sampling from the majority of the interior of the black t-shirt," the search warrant continued. "The probability of randomly selecting an unrelated individual who would be included as a contributor to the DNA mixture profile is greater than one in 7.2 billion, which is approximately the world population."

The search warrant indicated police are working with Ntelos to confirm Matthew had a working mobile phone in the Charlottesville-area the night Harrington disappeared.

Forensic psychologist Mike Banks told CBS 6 investigative reporter Melissa Hipolit that DNA can stay on clothing for years, especially when it comes from fluids.

“I’ve been on cases where they had evidence that was 2 and 3 and 4 years old..and were still able to get DNA from that,” Banks said.

Still, he cautions that just because Matthew’s DNA is on the shirt, that does not automatically mean he killed Harrington.

“He may have given her a ride home, he may have offered her to sit with him in his house,” Banks said.

Banks said investigators will need a lot more evidence than the t-shirt to build their case, if they do end up charging Matthew with Harrington’s death.

“This is one part of the puzzle. It’s a significant part of the puzzle. Does it specifically say Jesse Matthew is guilty? No, not yet,” Banks said.

This is a developing story. Click here to watch CBS 6 News tonight for updates.

The last hours Hannah Graham was seen

On the evening of Sept. 12, she was seen at a party before friends saw her at an apartment complex a couple of blocks away. That was shortly before midnight. About 12:45 a.m. on Sept. 13, a surveillance camera caught her outside of a pub, about three-quarters of a mile from the apartment complex.

Other surveillance cameras captured her, as she ran past a gas station, walked past an Italian cafe and then by a jewelry store. These cameras capture her route along the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville, a pedestrian thoroughfare lined with shops and restaurants.

The cameras also showed a man, later identified as Matthew, first follow Graham and then put his arm around her as they walked toward the Tempo Bar, where reports said Matthew had been earlier in the evening.

At 1:20 a.m., Graham texted her friends to say she was lost and trying to find a party. She and a man said to be Matthew were seen having drinks at a bar between 1:30 and 2 a.m., though the bar denies she was ever inside.

Police believe she may have been under the influence of alcohol, making her less able to defend herself.

In the early morning hours of Sept. 13, police said more surveillance cameras  showed Graham leaving the Tempo Bar area around 2 a.m. Matthew is believed to be the last person who saw Graham alive.

He was named a person of interest after police conducted a search of his vehicle and then his home. Once forensic evidence returned, a warrant was issued charging him with the abduction of Graham, with intent to defile.

Authorities later found Matthew 1,300 miles away camping on a beach in Galveston, Texas. The 32-year-old Matthew was returned to Virginia and charged.

What is known about Jesse Matthew? 

The day after Jesse Matthew was named a person of interest in Graham’s disappearance, he went into Charlottesville Police Headquarters and asked to secure a lawyer. He did, and then he left the building without speaking to police. He reportedly sped away in his sister’s car, shaking the law enforcement detail overtly following him.

The next time police saw him, he was arrested in Galveston, Texas.

Early in the evening on the Friday that Graham disappeared, Matthew attended the Covenant Eagle’s football game, the team of a prestigious private school where he coached. That was after his work as an orderly at the UVa. Medical Hospital. An independently reported timeline followed Matthew’s steps throughout the evening the night Graham went missing.

In the report multiple women, and men, comment on the roughness of Matthew, which stands against other reports of his gentleness and laid back nature.

“He’s as gentle as they come,” said his dad, and friends from Monticello High School described Matthew as “the big man on campus” and “a teddy bear.”

However, court records obtained by CBS 6 News reveal a man who may also have had a violent temper at times.

There are also two instances when sexual assaults were alleged against Matthew, once at Liberty University and once at Christopher Newport University. The Lynchburg Commonwealth’s Attorney said the alleged victim at Liberty did not want to prosecute. CNU officials said they are withholding his record pursuant to the exception from mandatory disclosure, in cooperation with law-enforcement agencies.

Matthew left each school shortly after both allegations were made; Liberty in Oct. 2002 and Christopher Newport in Sept. 2003.

Incidents Jesse Matthew Jr.  has been connected to:

  • Oct. 17, 2002 – Alleged sexual assault at Liberty University
  • Sept. 7, 2003 – Reported Christopher Newport University 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)

All Hannah Graham surveillance videos can be seen here. All reports filed on this case can be found here.This is a developing story.