Six years after Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington went missing at a concert and was later found dead, the suspect in the killing of another local student has been charged with her abduction and murder.
Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr., 33, was charged by a grand jury with first-degree murder and abduction with the intent to defile in the killing of Harrington in 2009, the Office of the Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney said in a statement this week.
Matthew is already facing a capital murder charge in the death and disappearance of University of Virginia sophomore Hannah Graham in September of 2014 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Harrington, 20, vanished during a Metallica concert in Charlottesville at the UVA campus on Oct. 17, 2009. Her body was located in a field three months later.
The location was about six miles from where Graham's remains would be discovered nearly five years later, The Associated Press reported.
Matthew, who was a patient technician at the UVA medical center and former taxi driver, was the last person known to have seen Graham alive after she went missing last September after a night out with friends. She had texted a friend around 1 a.m. saying she was lost.
Her remains were found at an abandoned property in Albemarle County on Oct. 18, less than ten miles from where she was last seen alive.
Matthew was arrested last year on a beach in Galveston County, Texas, and charged in Graham’s murder.
Wearing a gray striped jumpsuit with his hands and feet shackled, Matthew made his first court appearance Wednesday in the murder charges for the death of Morgan Harrington, the AP reported.
Harrington’s parents, who long suspected Matthew played a role in the death of their daughter, came face to face with the suspect in court.
"We have known in our hearts and believed very strongly that Mr. Matthews was responsible," Gil Harrington, Morgan's mother, told NBC affiliate WVIR.
"I want him to know that we are present and we have been present for six years and we will be present for the months to come," Morgan's father, Dan Harrington, told the AP. "He needs to know that justice is coming."
Commonwealth Attorney Denise Lunsford said Wednesday that prosecutors don’t intend for Harrington’s case and Graham’s to be combined.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in Graham’s case. The trial is expected to begin in July 2016.
Matthew is already facing up to three life terms for a June conviction in the 2005 attempted murder and sexual assault of a woman in Fairfax, after unexpectedly entering an Alford plea during the fourth day of his trial earlier this year. In an Alford plea, a defendant doesn't admit guilt, but concedes that the prosecution has enough evidence to secure a conviction.
Last September, Virginia State Police said Matthew’s arrest provided a “significant break” in Harrington’s case and a "new forensic link" for investigators to pursue.
Federal law enforcement told NBC News at the time that DNA recovered from the Harrington case was linked to a then-unknown offender in the 2005 sexual assault in Fairfax.
Matthew is being held in jail without bail.