|Morgan Harrington (left), Hannah Graham (right)|
Morgan Harrington (20) was a student at Virginia Tech when she disappeared on October 17th, 2009. On that day, Morgan and some friends travelled to the University of Virginia to attend a Metallica concert. During the opening act, Morgan left her friends to go use the restroom. At some point, she exited the arena and was unable to get back in due to a strict “no re-entry” policy. Morgan spoke with her friends on the phone at 8:48pm, telling them not to worry—she would find her own ride home.Unfortunately, Morgan never made it home and she was never heard from again after that phone call.
Around 3 months later, on January 26th, 2010, Morgan’s remains were found on a farm ten miles away from the concert arena. The police did not release many details about Morgan’s death, however, her parents confirmed that she had been a victim of homicide. There were not any known suspects at the time Morgan’s remains were found, but forensic testing revealed that DNA found on Morgan’s shirt matched DNA evidence that the police already had on file for an unsolved kidnapping and rape case that occurred in Fairfax, Virginia in September 2005. The victim of the 2005 attack was able to escape from her kidnapper, but the police were unable to locate him after she reported the attack.
Years passed, and both the 2005 kidnapping/rape case and Morgan’s 2009 murder remained unsolved. Then, on September 13th, 2014, another young girl went missing from the University of Virginia: 18 year-old Hannah Graham. Sometime during the night of September 12th, Hannah became separated from her friends while walking to a party. She was last heard from at 1:20am on the 13th, after texting a friend that she was lost. Less than a week later, police released surveillance footage from the university mall from the night of Hannah’s disappearance. In the video, Hannah is shown stumbling through the mall by herself when an older, unidentified man approaches her and puts his arm around her. Police were able to identify that man as Jesse L. Matthew Jr. He was taken into custody on September 24th and charged with kidnapping and intent to defile.
On September 29th, 2014, investigators announced that they found a forensic link between evidence taken from Matthew and the murder of Morgan Harrington. They also found a forensic link to the 2005 kidnapping and rape case in Fairfax. Hannah still remained missing, but police believed that they now had a serial rapist/killer in custody.
Hannah’s remains were found on October 18th, 2014, on an abandoned property in Albemarle County, Virginia. Matthew was subsequently charged with the kidnapping and rape for the 2005 case and with the murders of both Morgan and Hannah. In June of 2015, Matthew was given three life sentences for the 2005 attack. In March of 2016, he plead guilty to both Morgan and Hannah’s murders. Matthew will remain incarcerated for the rest of his life.
Morgan's mother has written a book about her daughter's murder titled Morgan Harrington Murdered and Dead for Good: A Mother’s Quest to Find a Serial Killer and Healing