CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — A suspect has been charged in the disappearance of a University of Virginiastudent, but the man has not been apprehended, police said Tuesday night.
Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo said at a news conference that officers obtained an arrest warrant charging Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr., 32, with abduction with intent to defile.
Police have said they believe Matthew was the last person seen with 18-year-old Hannah Graham, who disappeared early the morning of Sept. 13.
Matthew was last seen Saturday when he stopped by the police station to ask for a lawyer. Police say he sped away afterward, losing officers who had him under surveillance and prompting authorities to issue two arrest warrants for reckless driving.
Longo said police, who have searched Matthew’s car once and his apartment twice, decided they had probable cause to charge him in Graham’s disappearance. He declined to say what new information police had, and he did not take questions.
Officials said earlier that they took clothing during their second search of Matthew’s apartment Monday, but they would not elaborate on the importance of the items.
Police first searched the apartment Monday, and police Capt. Gary Pleasants said information that came up during the investigation led to a second search. He would not give details about the clothing or elaborate on the search.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the state lab was still analyzing evidence it has received from the Charlottesville Police Department, which included nearly two dozen items and eight “known samples that we would use for comparison purposes,” said Jeffrey Ban, director of the Department of Forensic Science’s Central Laboratory in Richmond.
Ban said that the department has expedited the case and hoped to provide authorities with results in the “very near future.” But he noted the lab could spend hours or even a whole day on a single piece of evidence that may have multiple stains or hairs on it. He also said it is standard procedure to test any samples against those in their database, including those from other missing persons cases in the central Virginia area.
Matthew is a patient technician in the operating room at the university’s medical center. Police have not offered any details about how he and Graham, a sophomore from northern Virginia, may be connected.
Authorities on Tuesday released an updated wanted poster reflecting the new charge against Matthew. It says the 6-foot-2, 270-pound man was last reported driving his sister’s 1997 light blue Nissan Sentra, and notes that he is said to have contacts in Virginia, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.
Police said they have focused on Graham’s movements the night of Sept. 12 and into early Sept. 13. Graham met friends at a restaurant for dinner, stopped by two parties at off-campus housing units and left the second party alone, police have said.
Surveillance videos showed her walking, and at some points running, past a pub and a service station and then onto the Downtown Mall, a seven-block pedestrian strip lined with shops and restaurants.
According to family members and police, Graham is an alpine skier and plays the alto saxophone. Organizers of a candlelight vigil last week at the university handed out her favorite candy, Starburst. Longo said he learned from visiting with Graham’s parents that the graduate of West Potomac High School earned straight A’s six years in a row.
Graham’s disappearance has sent a ripple of fear through the quiet college town of Charlottesville. Students have said they’ve begun walking in pairs at night and are paying closer attention to their surroundings.