NELSON COUNTY, Va. -- Scientific testing has cleared Hannah Graham abduction and sexual assault suspect Jesse Matthew from being in Alexis Murphy's car the night the Nelson County teen disappeared in 2013, Nelson County Commonwealth's Attorney Anthony Martin confirmed. No link has been found on social media that connects Matthew to Murphy, he added.
The DNA confirmation from the FBI lab in Quantico, comes more than three months after Randy Taylor's lawyer requested additional scientific testing on behalf of his client. Taylor was convicted of murdering Murphy despite the fact the teen's body was never found.
"This testing has been completed by the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia. After comparing Jesse Matthew's DNA profile to the evidence collected from the 2003 Nissan Maxima that was driven by Alexis Murphy on the day she disappeared from Nelson County on August 3, 2013 and owned by her father, Matthew was excluded as the source of DNA from samples found on swabs from the Nissan's driver side head rest, and the steering wheel," Martin said in a release. "In an effort to be completely thorough, and in accordance with the FBI Laboratory procedures, a DNA scientist also compared Matthew's DNA profile from evidence collected in 2013 from both inside Randy Taylor's camper and his GMC suburban. Matthew again was excluded as a source of DNA from all of that evidence."
"In light of all the factors mentioned above in now the added scientific testing that has excluded Jesse Matthew, law-enforcement affirms its earlier conclusion that there is no credible evidence linking Jesse Matthew to be abduction and murder of Alexis Murphy," Martin concluded.
Taylor’s attorney, Mike Hallahan, sent a letter to Martin on October 2, 2014 asking that investigators check for a potential link between Matthew and the missing Nelson County teen. Matthew has also been forensically linked to murdered Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington on the October 2009 night she disappeared and is awaiting trial in March after DNA linked him to an attempted murder, abduction and sexual assault in Fairfax in 2005.
Hallahan 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.
Trina Murphy, Alexis' aunt, said the family was relieved that the testing came back and added they were always confident that Taylor was the man who killed Alexis. Hallahan based the request on multiple reports that Matthew was “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 she 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,” he said.
As a result, Hallahan wanted Matthew’s DNA sample compared to the samples recovered from the car Murphy was driving. The FBI examined the DNA profile of Matthew, and Murphy's father and her brother.
"It's sort of like having a partial fingerprint the part that they could see clearly did not match Jesse Matthew but they did not have enough of the other part to confirm that it was not the father or the brother," said Martin.
However, Martin maintained that the commonwealth’s attorney’s Office, the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office, FBI and Virginia State Police found no credible evidence linking Matthew, Jr. to the Murphy case.
"They didn't just look at the car they looked at all the evidence that we found inside of Randy Taylor's camper inside his GMC suburban we're talking dozens and dozens of pieces of evidence and the lab excluded Jesse Matthew from every single piece of evidence," he said.
Martin released the following statement October 2, 2013:
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.
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)