Sep 25, 2014 1:39 PM

Suspect captured, but UVa student still missing

The Associated Press

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) A man charged with abducting a missing University of Virginia student appeared confused and refused a court-appointed attorney Thursday after being captured in Texas, where the search for Hannah Graham has now expanded.

Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr. sped away after being questioned by police in Charlottesville, Virginia, last Saturday, and made it to the beach town of Gilchrist, Texas 1,260 miles from home and about a seven-hour drive from the border before his arrest.

Authorities had issued a federal fugitive warrant for Matthew out of concern that he would try to cross into Mexico, according to a person familiar with the search for Hannah Graham, who spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the person isn't authorized to publicly discuss the investigation.

Matthew, 32, appeared in a brief initial hearing Thursday over a video link from a Galveston County jail. Wearing a dark green jumpsuit and handcuffs, his dreadlocks dangling over his chest as he leaned toward the camera, he signed papers and expressed concern that his clothes had been taken. "I should be able to have some kind of clothing," he said.

Henry told him his personal items would be returned, and denied bond pending an extradition hearing later Thursday.

"We seem to be the end of the road," said Galveston County Sheriff Henry Trochesset. "For us, it's not strange that someone like that would be arrested here."

Matthew, a 6-foot-2, 270-pound former college football player, was captured less than a day after he was charged with "abduction with intent to defile" Graham, an 18-year-old sophomore who went missing Sept. 13 in Charlottesville.

A deputy responding to a suspicious person report found he had pitched a tent on the beach near his car. Matthew refused to identify himself, but his car's plates gave him away.

Police think the tent had been in the area a day or two, Trochesset said.

"This case is nowhere near over," Charlottesville Virginia Police Chief Timothy Longo told a news conference. "We have a person in custody, but there's a long road ahead of us and that long road includes finding Hannah Graham."

Texas authorities have now joined the search, while in Charlottesville, owners of rural and wooded areas were urged to examine their properties for any signs of Graham.

Police said they had probable cause to arrest Matthew after twice searching his apartment and gathering other evidence, but they have released no details yet. As for Graham, much of what is known of her last night before disappearing was captured on surveillance videos.

Authorities say she met friends at a restaurant for dinner Sept. 12 before stopping by two parties at off-campus housing units. She left the second party alone and eventually texted a friend saying she was lost, authorities said.

Recorded images show her walking unsteadily and even running at times, past a pub and a service station and then onto the Downtown Mall a seven-block pedestrian strip where police believe she entered a bar with Matthew. The publicly released images do not show them entering the bar together, but "witnesses place them in the bar together," Charlottesville Police spokeswoman Miriam I. Dickler said in an email.

Matthew worked as an operating room technician at the University of Virginia Medical Center since Aug. 12, 2012, the university said. The charges surprised Dave Hansen, who met Matthew a decade ago when Hansen served as an assistant pastor at an area church, and saw him again recently at the hospital.

"I always thought he was a gentle giant, just a nice guy," Hansen said. "He seemed genuine with his faith and spirituality. ... I don't see him doing this at all, but that's usually the case, I guess."

Matthew attended Liberty University from 2000 to 2002, said officials with the Lynchburg school founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell. The school's athletics website listed him as a defensive lineman on the football team.

More recently, he served as a volunteer for the football team at The Covenant School, a private Christian grade school in Charlottesville, where officials said he passed background and reference checks before taking the volunteer job.

Matthew has had some past brushes with the law, but their details aren't public. Online court records show Matthew was convicted of trespassing in 2010, and charged but not prosecuted with assault and attempted grand larceny in a 2009 case. He had a state taxi permit from 2007 to 2010, and picked up several traffic infractions, records show.


Graczyk reported from League City, Texas. Associated Press reporters Alan Suderman, Michael Felberbaum and Steve Szkotak in Richmond, Virginia, and David Warren in Dallas contributed to this report.


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