Family friend: New developments 'difficult' for Jesse Matthew's - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Family friend: New developments 'difficult' for Jesse Matthew's father

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (WWBT) - A person close to Jesse Matthew's father says the man is struggling with the new developments about his son, charged with abducting Hannah Graham and now indicted in Fairfax on a rape charge.

A rural area off Old Lynchburg Road near Charlottesville continues to be the focus of a criminal investigation as a community waits to hear whether human remains found this weekend are those of Hannah Graham.

“This is difficult right now. He is struggling because he had no idea nor saw any signs,” a family friend of Jesse Matthew Sr. said.  

On the first day of the work week following the gruesome discovery of human remains in Albemarle, sentiments toward the missing UVA sophomore are strong.

"It's sad but in a way if it is her I'm kind of happy for the family just to have some sort of closure even though it's horrible,” Kayla Leavesley said.

As police await a positive identification, there are growing tributes on the Copley Bridge on UVA's campus. Officers now say they believe the missing student was not just abducted, but somehow died.

"If this turns into a murder case, it's just a totally different case,” said UVA law professor Brandon Garrett.

Garret is an expert on criminal cases. While he's not involved in this investigation, he provides insight on what could happen next if the medical examiner identifies those remains as Hannah.

"Forensics will be looking at identifying the body, identifying the murderer, and identifying the method of death. All three of those things will be very important so it's not just one type of forensics test they will be doing,” he said.

Matthew's attorney is keeping quiet, and experts admit the road ahead is unclear.

"We still don't know whether this case is heading to trial. There are many serious cases like this where the defendant for good reason accepts an offer from the prosecution since they fear what could happen if the case would go to trial,” Garrett added.

Now many in the area are a little more on guard following such a high profile case that hits close to home.

"Say we were to go out together on a Friday night, I think we'd be more aware of our surroundings which is probably a good thing,” said Cassandra Sharpe.

Nelson County's prosecutor said Monday he is still awaiting word on whether there's a forensic link between Jesse Matthew and missing teen Alexis Murphy.

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