Legal experts say new charge helps Hannah Graham investigators - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

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Legal experts say new charge helps investigators expand their search for Hannah Graham

NELSON, VA (WWBT) -

We asked our legal experts to take a look at the case and what exactly the charge means.

For days, Jesse Matthew was a person of interest in the disappearance of Hannah Graham. Tuesday night, he became a suspect.

But, what does that mean?

We took that question to NBC12 Legal Analyst Steve Benjamin.

"What this means is police now believe this individual is responsible for her disappearance, that he abducted her and deprived her of her liberty and he did so with the intent to commit sexual assault," explains Benjamin.

At this point, neither Hannah nor Matthew have been found.

Benjamin says swearing out this warrant helps investigators broaden their reach.

"The fact of this felony warrant now permits the authorities to have better access to federal resources in locating not only the suspect, the man who's wanted, but also of course- locating Hannah," Benjamin says.

In an effort to find clues in this case, investigators seized Matthew's car and searched his apartment.

While they haven't said public- what, if anything, they found, former Chesterfield County Police Officer Bubba Bates says it was enough to move forward.

"I can't speculate what type of evidence they retrieved, where it came from, whether it was from his automobile or his apartment or both, but they had enough evidence to convince a magistrate that there was enough probable cause," explains Bates.

And, even though Hannah Graham hasn't been seen since September 13th, Bates, who's not involved in this case, has faith this case could still have a happy ending.

"I'm hopeful, I truly am and prayful that this will have a much better conclusion than some others that we've dealt with in that area recently," says Bates.

Both Benjamin and Bates also say- police have been very smart in using the media and the community to spread their message and help find Hannah.

And, hopefully locate Jesse Matthew.

 

ORIGINAL STORY:

Nelson prosecutors refuted social media speculation on Wednesday tying the suspect in the Hannah Graham disappearance and the Alexis Murphy murder case.

There is nothing to link a person to the two disappearances at this time, Nelson County Commonwealth's Attorney Anthony Martin wrote in a release to the media.

Randy Taylor was found guilty of first degree murder and abduction with intent to defile in the disappearance of Murphy in Nelson County, despite her body never being found. Jesse Matthew also faces a count of abduction with intent to defile in the case of Graham, who hasn't been seen since September 13 in nearby Charlottesville.

Taylor has implicated another man in the Murphy case, leading some to question whether Matthew was somehow involved, however prosecutors say the man implicated by Taylor is not Matthew and doesn't match his description. The individual named by Taylor testified in court and had an alibi confirmed by authorities in the Murphy case.

"There is no credible evidence at this time that suggests any third party was involved in the Randy Taylor case and certainly no evidence at this time exists that Jesse Leroy Matthew, Jr. had anything to do with the disappearance of Alexis Murphy," wrote Martin.

Click here for full #BringHannahHome coverage: nbc12.com/hannah

The car Taylor indicated, a maroon Chevy Caprice with big rims, also does not match any vehicle Matthew has been linked to. Martin also said authorities from the FBI and Virginia State Police have re-examined video from the Murphy disappearance and discredited theories Matthews' burnt orange Chrysler is seen in the background.

A $50,000 reward is being offered for anyone who can help police locate Matthew and the search for Graham continues. Authorities ask anyone with information to call the 24-hour tip line at 434-295-3851.

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