Graham investigation passes one-month mark as police continue search efforts

More than 100 law enforcement officers will volunteer to search this weekend

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Second-year College student Hannah Graham was last seen Sept. 13. Jesse Matthew sits in jail on a charge of abduction with intent to defile.

Search efforts for missing second-year College student Hannah Graham were suspended Monday and Tuesday to allow law enforcement to regroup before continuing efforts through the weekend. Severe weather prompted the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to further suspend searches Wednesday. The search is now to resume Thursday.

Charlottesville Police Captain Gary Pleasants said more than 100 law enforcement officers will volunteer their services toward the search effort this weekend. New maps will be used to outline areas which have already been searched, he said.

“Law enforcement agencies from all over Virginia have volunteered [to] come help us [so] our detectives can concentrate on the investigation,” Pleasants said.

Graham’s parents released another statement last weekend, acknowledging the one-month mark since their daughter disappeared. Graham was last seen Sept. 13.

“It is heart-breaking for us that the person or persons who know where Hannah is have not come forward with that information,” the Grahams said in the statement. “It is within their power both to end this nightmare for all, and to relieve the searchers of their arduous task.”

As the search continues, Charlottesville resident Jesse Matthew sits in the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail awaiting his Dec. 4 court date for charges of abduction with intent to defile in Graham’s case.

Virginia State Police said they are continuing to investigate the tie between Graham’s disappearance and the death of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington, who went missing in 2009 after attending a concert at John Paul Jones Arena. Two weeks ago, state police confirmed forensic evidence from Matthew’s arrest provided a “significant break” in the Harrington case.

Melvin Carter Jr., co-owner of Carter’s Taxi in Charlottesville, confirmed Matthew worked as a driver both for Yellow Cab and Access Taxi in Charlottesville at the time Harrington disappeared.

State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said she could not confirm the status of any investigation into Matthew's time as a cab driver or the vehicle he operated at the time.

Carter estimated about 75 cabs were operating in Charlottesville when Harrington went missing.

“I’m not saying what taxi [Harrington] stepped into, but she definitely stepped into one,” Carter said. “Most likely, [Matthew] was driving that night, because it was a sold-out concert at JPJ, and it’s a commission-based business. I’d say nine out of 10 times he was working.”

Carter said he assisted police with a traffic case a couple of weeks prior to Harrington’s disappearance. After she went missing, he said, police called again to ask about dark-colored cabs in the city.

“[Matthew] had a darker Access cab and a yellow cab,” Carter said.

Drivers must go through the Charlottesville Police Department to obtain a cab license in the city. Though Carter said driving for two companies at the same time is usually not allowed within individual companies, Pleasants said the practice is not prohibited by law.

“Just like any other corporation, you know your competition, and you know the people in that competition,” Carter said.

On his relationship with Matthew, Carter said, “LJ and I were never to a point where we were that social.”

Carter said that he did, however, communicate with Matthew after speaking with police about Harrington's disappearance.

“A couple of weeks later I [saw] him again and I asked what cab company [he worked for] and he said Yellow Cab,” Carter said. “I was wondering, ‘Who did it? You know who did it?’ It never dawned on me that it could have been Jesse.”

According to a pre-recorded voicemail greeting at the office of Matthew’s attorney, Jim Camblos, neither he nor Matthew are giving interviews about the case at this time.

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