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Cops: Remains may be those of missing US student

October 19, 2014

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia (AP) — Searchers found human remains that could be those of a British-born University of Virginia student who has been missing since Sept. 13, police said.

Further forensic tests are needed to confirm whether the remains are those of Hannah Graham, Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo told a news conference Saturday. The remains were found on an abandoned property by a search team, Longo said.

Thousands of volunteers had searched for the 18-year-old Graham in the weeks since her disappearance.

Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr., 32, has been charged with abduction with intent to defile Graham.

A week after Graham went missing, Longo publicly described Matthew in detail without naming him, saying investigators wanted to talk to the “person of interest” and had searched his apartment because he was the last person to see her.

Matthew then showed up at police headquarters, asked for a lawyer, and then sped away, according to a police account. His exit prompted a warrant for “reckless driving,” a charge that Longo cited as he named the suspect and appealed for information from anyone who saw him with Graham the night she disappeared.

Matthew was arrested a few days later in Texas.

While Matthew was a fugitive in Texas, Virginia police added a charge of abduction with intent to defile, a violent felony that under Virginia law compels suspects to submit to DNA testing.

Virginia State Police soon announced a “forensic link” to the 2009 killing of Morgan Harrington, whose body was found in a hayfield three months after she vanished. That case, in turn, has been linked by DNA evidence since 2012 to the rape of a woman in Virginia, who survived after a passer-by startled her attacker, the FBI has said.

Following Matthew’s arrest, Christopher Newport University released a statement noting that Matthew was named in a police file involving a Sept. 7, 2003, sexual assault on the campus. Matthew was a student there from January 2003 through Oct. 15, 2003.

Matthew had transferred there after three years at Liberty University, where he was accused of raping a student on campus. That charge was dropped when the person declined to move forward with prosecution, Lynchburg Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Doucette said.

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