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Suspect in Hannah Graham disappearance charged in 2005 rape case

Jesse Matthew, the man believed to be responsible for the disappearance of a Virginia college student, has been charged in a 2005 rape case, and is suspected to have been involved in an additional 2002 rape case as well as a 2009 murder.

The suspect in the disappearance of a British-born University of Virginia student was charged Monday with abducting and raping a woman in suburban Washington in 2005.

The indictment against Jesse L. Matthew Jr. was handed up by a Circuit Court grand jury in Fairfax County and includes a charge of attempted capital murder.

The Fairfax County grand jury charged Matthew with attempted murder in Fairfax city during or after an abduction with intent to defile on Sept. 24, 2005.

Law enforcement officials who have been searching for Graham found human remains over the weekend and they were taken to the Virginia Medical Examiner's office in Richmond. A spokesman in the office could not say Monday when the results of the forensic examination would be completed.

She was last seen with Matthew on Sept. 13 and searchers discovered human remains on Saturday near Charlottesville, site of the university.

At a news conference Monday, Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Morrogh declined to discuss any details of the case, but did say the victim is cooperating. Police had previously said that on Sept. 24, 2005, a 26-year-old woman was walking home from the grocery store at about 10 p.m. on a Saturday night, when her assailant grabbed her from behind, dragged her into a wooded area behind some townhomes, and sexually assaulted her.

The man fled the area when he was startled by a passerby, police said.

Morrogh said he will seek a bench warrant later this week requesting that Matthew be brought to Fairfax for an initial appearance, and he expected that to be granted. But no court date has been set. Morrogh said he was not sure whether Matthew would be tried first in Charlottesville or in Fairfax.

One of the officials who made the discovery of the human remains said they were found just as he and his team were about to move on to another site.

Matthew's attorney has repeatedly refused to discuss his client, and a message on his law office telephone on Monday said he was not taking questions in the case.

Monday, state and local law enforcement officials continued to search an area about 12 miles  southwest of the Charlottesville campus of University of Virginia where the remains were found on Saturday after an extensive search in the city of 40,000 and in Albemarle County.

Police let Graham's parents know about the discovery before they publicly released the information. They are looking for clues and evidence in a heavily wooded area that is dotted with farms.

Matthew has been charged with abduction with intent to defile Graham. He is being held in the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail.

The remains were discovered roughly 6 miles (9 kilometers) from where the body of 20-year-old Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington was found after she vanished in 2009. Police have said forensic evidence connects Matthew to Harrington's killing, which in turn is linked by DNA to the 2005 sexual assault in northern Virginia. He has not been charged in the Harrington killing.

As for the link between the Graham case and the Fairfax case, Morrogh would only say that "indirectly, that case was of value to the department in conducting its investigation" but declined further comment.

Graham hasn't been seen since after a night out with friends. She had met friends at a restaurant for dinner before stopping by two off-campus parties. She left the second party alone and eventually texted a friend saying she was lost, authorities said.

In surveillance video, she can be seen walking unsteadily and even running at times, past a pub and a service station and then onto a seven-block strip of bars, restaurants and shops. On Sunday, the area was buzzing with people having brunch at outdoor cafes on a brisk, sunny day. Graham's disappearance and the discovery of human remains was a frequent topic of conversation.

Matthew was arrested near Galveston, Texas, on Sept. 24, a day after he was charged with abduction with intent to defile in the Graham case.

He was also the main suspect in a 2002 campus rape investigation while attending Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. No charges were filed.

This report contains additional material from Reuters.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 
 
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