HNGN Crime Contributor Jon Leiberman is joined by Dan and Gil Harrington whose daughter Morgan, a 20-year-old Virginia Tech student, disappeared on Oct. 17, 2009, from a Metallica concert at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Morgan's remains were discovered three months later in rural farmland. She had been violently assaulted, raped and then murdered. DNA evidence revealed a strong link to Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr., 33, the suspect charged in the abduction and murder of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham, 18, whose murdered body was discovered earlier this year.
Morgan had left the arena during the concert's opening act. She was headed to the bathroom but somehow exited the stadium and was not allowed to re-enter due to the venue's "no re-entry policy."
When she did not return for the start of the main act, her two companions phoned her from their seats. Morgan told them to what had happened and that she would find a way back home. Witnesses last saw Harrison on a bridge not far from the stadium. The next day her purse and cellphone, minus its battery, were discovered in one of the stadium's parking lots. Investigators discovered her remains three months later, on Jan. 26, 2010, in a remote area of Virginia farmland.
Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr. had been been driving a cab on the night of Morgan's disappearance. Employment records verify he had been in the vicinity of the Metallica concert, and police theorize Morgan had flagged him down to take her home.
In addition to being linked the assaults and murders of both Morgan Harrington and Hannah Graham, Matthew can now be connected through DNA evidence to a 2005 rape in northern Virginia. He is also being investigated for the 2009 murder of Liberty University student Cassandra Morton, 23, whose body, like those of Harrington and Graham, was discovered in remote farmland not far from where she was abducted.
Hannah Graham and Harrington are among five young women to have vanished within a few miles of Route 29, which Mathew routinely traversed in his capacity as a cab driver.
A decade earlier, Matthew had been the focus of two separate investigations involving the sexual assault of female students at colleges he had been attending - in 2003 at Christopher Newport University and in 2004 at Liberty University. Although both investigations resulted in Matthew's dismissal from both schools, he was never formally charged with either crime because both victims refused to go through the difficult and painful process of prosecution.
Matthew is slated to stand trial early this summer on charges he abducted and murdered Hannah Graham. Charges have not yet been brought against him for Morgan Harrington or Cassandra Morton's murders.
Information that may help police in the Morgan Harrington case can be directed to the Virginia State Police tip line at (434) 352-3467.
—Jon Leiberman reports with help from HNGN staff