Cédrika Provencher: Our worst fears

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For over the  past  near-decade you could not be in the province of Quebec and not been aware of the story, or at least the face, of Cédrika Provencher.  The 9-year-old girl disappeared on July 31, 2007 near her home in Trois-Rivières. Her parents – chiefly her father, Martin – were in the news regularly asking the public for answers. Cédrika became – literally – a poster-child for lost-innocence and fear. She was / is what Maura Murray is to New Hampshire, what Brianna Maitland is to Vermont, what Alison Parrot was for over a decade to the city of Toronto.

october 27 2007

In the Fall of 2007 I visited Quebec City for a meeting with the Minister of Public Security. I snapped this photo of Cédrika along the artists alley across from the Chateau Frontenac. It could have been taken anywhere: the city was littered with these notices.

Now comes the news that the remains found yesterday by passers-by in woods on the edge of Highway 40 in St-Maurice, near Trois-Rivières, are those of the young girl.  I am not currently living in Quebec,  but I can tell you without an inch of doubt that the province is heartbroken. 

Over the years I’ve thought about this case, but not deeply. I must confess that so many resources were thrown at this case that Cédrika didn’t appear to need my help. In the beginning Pierre Boisvenu and AFPAD fought hard to use it as justification for the Surete du Quebec to initiate a squad specifically dedicated to missing persons in the first 48 hours of disappearance.  I know the Surete du Quebec took the matter seriously because often I couldn’t get things done on Theresa’s case, because the SQ was doubling-down on Cédrika.  For the record, I had no issue with that. I have always believed that public safety resources should be used for current investigations first and foremost.

But then this very immediate case became a cold case. At times it seemed to lose its focus, with police chasing suspects as far away as New Brunswick. The documentary filmmaker, Stephen Parent made a pitch for linking Provencher’s disappearance to the murders of several children in Quebec in 1984. I don’t know what I expected the outcome to be, but it wasn’t this. It wasn’t yesterday’s news that bones were found in some woods less than 10 miles from where the child disappeared. It wasn’t that for the past 8 years Cédrika was most likely right under everyone’s noses: that outcome seemed too much of a cliche.

Hopefully this will sort itself out into some form of satisfactory resolution. At this point, that can only mean justice. The first question everyone will want answered is, how long were the bones there? Had the remains been lying in those woods for the past 8 years, or were they placed there recently? But the broader question – Again, unfortunately – is this: who committed this crime, and had they committed similar crimes before and after July 31st, 2007?

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Authorities confirm body is U-Va. student #HannahGraham

Law Enforcement should not / and will not rush this. Matthew has already been indicted on the Fairfax County rape:  Take the time and get it right.  

From the Washington Post:

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The body found on an abandoned property outside of this college town has been confirmed as the remains of University of Virginia sophomore Hannah Graham, a grim result that came nearly six weeks after the 18-year-old from Fairfax County went missing.

Graham was last seen in the early morning hours of Sept. 13, after she was wandering the Downtown Mall here, about a mile and half from her apartment near U-Va.’s idyllic campus. Police on Sept. 24 arrested Jesse L. Matthew Jr., 32, on charges related to Graham’s disappearance after witnesses identified him as the last person with her.

A graduate of West Potomac High School, Graham was known by friends for her vibrant smile, jovial personality and spontaneous sense of humor. She spent the last night before she went missing socializing with friends from U-Va.’s ski club.

“We are devastated by the loss of our beautiful daughter, Hannah,” her parents, John and Sue Graham, said in a statement Friday after authorities confirmed her death. “Put simply, Hannah lit up our lives, the lives of our family and the lives of her friends and others who knew her. Although we have lost our precious Hannah, the light she radiated can never be extinguished.”

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) expressed sympathy for the Graham family.

“Our hearts are broken by today’s news, but that will not diminish our resolve to get justice for Hannah and her family,” McAuliffe said.

Graham, who police say had been drinking, left her apartment at about midnight on Sept. 13 to meet up with friends, but she became disoriented on Charlottesville’s streets. She began walking east and soon became lost, turned around in a neighborhood where she’d only lived since classes began for the fall semester, about two weeks earlier. Realizing she was in the wrong place, she sent text messages to friends asking for someone to meet up with her.

She arrived by chance at the Downtown Mall, where she was seen walking with Matthew, who at one point had his arm around her, according to surveillance videos police have released. She disappeared shortly after 1 a.m., walking away from a downtown restaurant with Matthew, according to witnesses.

Jenna Van Dyck, 20, a senior who was close friends with Graham, said that the sophomore never meant to be in that area that night.

“What’s most frustrating is that she just got lost and crossed paths with a predator,” Van Dyck said.

A widespread search for Graham commenced in the days following, with authorities and volunteers spreading out across all corners of the city and the surrounding counties of Nelson and Albemarle.

Police on Oct. 18 announced that a Chesterfield County sheriff’s deputy had discovered human remains near a run-down house on Old Lynchburg Road, about 12 miles southwest of Charlottesville.

Hannah Graham’s parents issued a statement upon confirmation that remains found on an abandoned property last week are those of their 18-year-old daughter, who went missing Sept. 13. Read the Graham family’s statement.

“Since the discovery along Old Lynchburg Road, officers and detectives have been working around the clock to process the scene and preserve evidence,” Albemarle County police officials said in a statement Friday. “We remain committed to this investigation and will work to ensure that justice is served.”

Graham’s body was found about five miles from a hayfield where the remains of slain Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington were discovered in 2010, 101 days after she went missing in October 2009. Two people close to the investigation have told The Washington Post that a “forensic link” between the Graham case and the Harrington investigation have been traced to Matthew’s DNA. No charges have been filed in the Harrington case.

Court records show that Matthew once lived at a home about five miles from where Graham’s body was found. Matthew has been charged with abducting Graham with the intent to sexually assault her.

Albemarle County commonwealth’s attorney Denise Lunsford said that she is exploring additional charges against Matthew. In Virginia, if a victim is killed in the course of an abduction, rape or an attempted rape, it can be charged as a capital offense, which can carry the death penalty or a mandatory life sentence upon conviction.

“We are working diligently with local law enforcement on the investigation to ensure that we make the best determination for our community and the Grahams in the pursuit of justice,” Lunsford said.

Matthew is being held without bond and is expected to be moved to Fairfax County soon to face charges related to a violent sexual assault and attempted slaying that occurred in Fairfax City in 2005. He was indicted in that case this week.

James L. Camblos III, a lawyer who is representing Matthew in the Graham case, said that Matthew’s family expressed sorrow for the Graham family.

“On behalf of the Carr family, and speaking for myself as well, the Graham family is in our thoughts and prayers in their time of bereavement,” Camblos said, referring to Matthew’s relatives. “The Carrs also asked me to say that they will continue to pray for the Grahams and the Harringtons throughout this ordeal.”

Graham’s death is casting a pall over the U-Va. campus in Charlottesville, where thousands of students, alumni and community members plan to gather for homecoming festivities this weekend.

“Hannah showed great promise as a student and as a young woman,” U-Va. president Teresa Sullivan said in a statement. “For Hannah’s young life to end so tragically, and for her destiny of promise to be left unfulfilled, is an affront to the sanctity of life and to the natural order of human events. This is a sorrowful day in the life of the University.”

Abraham Axler, 19, who serves as president of the Class of 2017, said that the ordeal has deeply affected the school. He is among a group of students preparing a memorial on campus to honor Graham.

“It’s very scary that something like this could happen in such a serene place,” said Axler, of New York. “Hannah’s disappearance represents a permanent change in consciousness about what it means to be safe in our community. The legacy of Hannah is how Virginia can be the safest campus in the country.”

Axler said that students and those in the community will be able to visit the memorial on Sunday morning. It will feature a chair constructed of skis, an homage to her passion for the winter pastime, covered with flowers.

The Grahams said that their daughter intended to pursue a career in global public health, where she could offer assistance to those in need.

“It is heartbreaking for us that she was robbed so tragically of the opportunity to fulfill her dream,” the Grahams said.

Since Graham went missing almost six weeks ago, the Grahams have lived what they described as “every parent’s worst nightmare.”

“When we started this journey together, we all hoped for a happier ending,” the Grahams said Friday. “Sadly that was not to be.”

The Grahams also noted that several young women remain missing in the greater Charlottesville area, and throughout the country, who deserve the nation’s attention.

“Although the waiting has ended for us, there are other families both in Virginia and beyond who have not been as fortunate in that their loved ones are still missing,” the Grahams said. “Please continue to hold these families in your thoughts and prayers.”

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Police search area where remains thought to be those of #HannahGraham were found

The initial interview with SGT Dale Terry who found the remains contained the following:

“It was behind a vacant home, in a dried-up creek bed, Terry said he found a skull and bones, along with a pair of tight, dark-colored pants.”

Description has since been scrubbed:

 

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From the Washington Post:

CHARLOTTESVILLE — Police on Sunday combed a narrow two-lane back road near an abandoned property in Albemarle County south of here, where searchers on Saturday found human remains thought to be those of missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham.

Graham, an 18-year-old from Fairfax County, vanished in the early hours of Sept. 13. Jesse L. Matthew Jr., a 32-year-old Charlottesville man with whom Graham was last seen, was arrested and charged in her disappearance, but the young woman’s whereabouts were unknown.

branchThe remote location where the body was found was within three or four miles of the hayfield where the body of another missing college student was found in 2010. Both Graham and the second woman, Morgan Harrington, a 20-year-old Virginia Tech student, disappeared late at night in Charlottesville.
Police on Sunday blocked off a three-mile section of Old Lynchburg Road near where the body was found as investigators scoured the area. For much of its length the road is unmarked and without shoulders, surrounded by woods that are turning amber, gold and crimson, and with houses set back from the pavement, several with white country fences. A tiny brick church sits at one end of the barricaded stretch, across the road from a cemetery with several dozen weathered tombstones.

The northernmost police barricade on Old Lynchburg on Sunday was at its intersection with Red Hill Road. From that point, Red Hill winds a little more than three miles to the northwest before it borders the 742-acre Anchorage Farm. It was there that Harrington’s skeletal remains were found.
The grim discovery Saturday of human remains on a stretch of road in rual Virginia has put Charlottesville residents on edge. Officials have not determined the identity of the remains. 
Virginia State Police investigators said last month that the arrest of Matthew was a “significant break” in the Harrington case and provided an unspecified “new forensic link” in the quest for her killer.

The remains found Saturday were discovered by a sheriff’s deputy searching an abandoned property, Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo Sr. said. A conclusive identification has not been made and the remains were sent to the Virginia medical examiner’s office for forensic testing.

Longo said Graham’s family members had been notified. They have not commented on the discovery of the remains. Authorities also called off a search for Graham planned for Sunday, saying they would focus on identifying the body.

Graham’s disappearance has shaken Virginia’s flagship public university, where students have held candlelight vigils and worn orange ribbons in the hope of Graham’s return.

Student council president Jalen Ross helped organize a vigil on the U-Va. campus that attracted hundreds of students. Ross and others at the event, which occurred five days after Graham was last seen, spoke about the missing sophomore in the present tense. Now Ross said that the student council was planning a memorial for Graham to provide a central place on campus for students to honor her.​

“Nobody wanted to hear there’s been a body found,” Ross, 21, said Sunday.

But it was the news many students were expecting, Ross said. In the five weeks since Graham disappeared, a dark mood has again descended over the school.

Hannah Graham timeline
“It revives the whole pool of sadness everyone went through originally,” Ross said.

Many students have donned orange ribbons to keep Graham in mind. Every day since Graham vanished, Ross has worn one pinned to his shirt.

“I told myself  I’d wear it until they found her,” Ross said.

Ross said many students recalled that it took investigators 101 days to find Harrington.

“A lot of us were worried that it would take a long time or infinite time to get closure” in Graham’s case, Ross said.

On Sunday afternoon, the Rev. Heather Warren crafted the words for her evening sermon at St. Paul’s Memorial Church, across from the Charlottesville campus.

“It’s just profoundly sad,” Warren said. “There was always this hope that she might be found alive. That’s not there now.”

In the weeks after Graham vanished, the church kept its doors open for students distressed by the sophomore’s disappearance. Warren said the church has helped students find solace in prayer and passages of Scripture. In recent days, Warren said, she has been drawn to Psalm 139, which explores the constant presence of God even in the worst of times.

“Whither can I go from your presence?” Warren said Sunday, quoting the psalm’s first verses. “You might not know what that presence feels like. But that does not mean you are abandoned.” She began Sunday evening’s service with a moment of silence for Graham.

Friends and teachers have described Graham, a 2013 graduate of West Potomac High School in the Alexandria area of Fairfax, as a good student with a sense of humor.

At U-Va., Graham participated in an alternative spring break as a freshman, volunteering to spend long hours rebuilding homes destroyed by tornadoes in Tuscaloosa, Ala. She was known as a central figure in the college’s ski club.

The investigation into Graham’s disappearance has produced leads in other unsolved cases.

Matthew, who had worked as an orderly at the U-Va. hospital, has been linked by DNA evidence to the investigations of two violent crimes: a sexual assault in Fairfax City in 2005 and the abduction and slaying of Harrington, police have said.

He has not been charged in either case.

In addition, two Virginia universities that Matthew attended between 2002 and 2003 said he was implicated in sexual assault cases. Both women declined to press charges against Matthew, and he was not convicted of any crime connected to the allegations.

Graham spent the evening of Sept. 12, a Friday, drinking and socializing with friends near campus before going out about midnight. By 1 a.m., she was seen wandering the Downtown Mall, about a mile and a half from her apartment. She sent messages to friends indicating that she was lost.

Shortly after 1 a.m., witnesses saw Graham with Matthew near the Tempo restaurant.

Brice Cunningham, the owner of Tempo, told The Washington Post that his employees later saw Graham and Matthew leaving the area together. She had not been seen since.

Police quickly focused on Matthew, searching his car and his Charlottesville apartment and eventually seeking a warrant for his arrest. Matthew was arrested Sept. 24 on a beach near Galveston, Tex., more than 1,300 miles from his apartment.

Matthew was charged with abduction with intent to defile, indicating that police think he planned to sexually assault Graham.

He is being held without bond in the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail.

James L. Camblos III, the lawyer representing Matthew, said he would await further information.

“The police have located human remains, and we will wait to see what the medical examiner says to see who it is,” Camblos said.

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#HannahGraham Our Greatest Hopes, Our Worst Fears:

Hannah Graham

Hannah Graham

Maybe this will bring some good. Help Save The Next Girl:

WASHINGTON POST

Human remains believed to be those of missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham have been found on an abandoned property outside Charlottesville, authorities announced Saturday evening.

Graham, 18, of the Alexandria-area of Fairfax County, vanished in the early hours of Saturday Sept. 13. She was last seen by witnesses on the Downtown Mall with a man identified by police as Jesse L. Matthew Jr., 32, of Charlottesville.

Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo Sr. said authorities must still make a conclusive identification of the remains. But he said police have notified the teen’s family. Authorities also said Graham’s case has become a death investigation.

If the body is that of the sophomore, it marks a grim end to a five-week search for the teen, who apparently became lost after a night out drinking and socializing with friends.

The remains were found by a sheriff’s deputy in Albemarle County.

“I want to thank everyone who gave up their days, their nights, their weekends,” Longo said of the search for Graham. “People who called, wrote and dropped food and good wishes and words of encouragement to the search groups and the detectives who work so hard through this investigation.”

“Today would have not been possible without their prayers, their encouragement and their help,” the chief said.

Longo said a police official reached out to Hannah Graham’s parents, John and Susan Graham, with “a very difficult phone call to share this preliminary discovery.”

Police said they have been searching the property for any clues, and said they would not release further details at this stage of the investigation.

“Today’s discovery is a significant development. And we have a great deal of work ahead of us. We cannot and we will not jump to any conclusions in regards to today’s discovery,” said Col. Steve Sellers, of the Albemarle County Sheriff’s Office.

“This sadly is now a death investigation,” Sellers said.

Police have said they linked Matthew’s DNA to the investigations of a violent sexual assault in Fairfax City in 2005 and the abduction and murder of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington, 20, in October 2009.

Hannah Graham timeline

Matthew has also been identified as a football player who was accused of sexual assault at Liberty University in 2002 and transferred to Christopher Newport University, where he was accused of another sexual assault in 2003 before dropping out. The university investigations did not lead to criminal charges.

James L. Camblos III, the lawyer representing Matthew said he would await further information. “The police have located human remains and we will wait to see what the medical examiner says to see who it is,” Camblos said.

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Where is #HannahGraham? #JesseMatthew #MorganHarrington

I have been asked this question by a number of posters. So here is my answer, with the following caveats:

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1.  I don’t pretend to know where Hannah Graham is. This is just my opinion. And judging on what I’ve seen so far? The police / FBI know what they are doing.

2. I am about to break the cardinal rule: Don’t chase suspects. Having said that, this is more about chasing – what we have been told is – evidence, not suspects. So I will avoid what I observe a lot of sleuthies are doing: trying to pin every missing persons case / unsolved murder on Jesse Matthew.

3. To the parents of Hannah Graham and Morgan Harrington: I know what you are going through because I have been through it. My sister’s murder is an unsolved cold case. My family lived with her being missing for 6 months. Your approach in this matter is absolutely right. Bond with each other, trust no one. The families possibly connected in my sister’s case are very close (Prior, Monast, Dube). We trust no one. Even the brother of Louise Camirand, who prefers to keep relatively anonymous: we talk when necessary. And we warn each other of the nut-jobs. (For more on those cases, click here.)  

With those caveats, a few more:

1. I am a relatively sane person with a normal life. I have a 9 to 5 job. I have 3 daughters. My life is rich and fulfilled. I do not need attention. 

2. I am not a professional investigator. My experience comes from living with a 35 year old cold case, and 15 years of semi-professionally studying the patterns of murder. Kim Rossmo – who invented geographic profiling – is a friend; we worked together on profiling the serial murders in Quebec, and he is always available to me as a confidante / consultant.    Rossmo spent time at the Police Foundation in Washington, DC, and has consulted with the FBI at Quantico, VA: I would be surprised if they haven’t yet consulted on these cases.  

3. 15 years has gained me access to a lot of material; I have a library of  over 1,000 photos of Quebec crime scene photos, I have pretty much exclusive access to Quebec cold-case files (no, you can’t know my source). I have frequently been asked for advice on cold cases (for better or worse).  I sometimes “think” better than law enforcement on these matters… that is no-knock to law enforcement. As I said, I’ve got 35 years of experience.

4. And, one more time: I’m a dad. I couldn’t post about this until now because I was making dinner. But I think of these things because last night my eldest daughter was out at a concert until 12:30 AM: it’s hard not to think of these things.

So with that long introduction, here’s what I think about #HannahGraham / #MorganHarrington / #JesseMatthew:

1. I think police are targeting the right areas. I think Hannah Graham is West or South of Charlottesville.  I believe this based on where Morgan Harrington was last seen and where she was found (that trajectory), where Matthew was born and recently lived, and because the North and East are more urbanized. Matthews has experience with the West (Harrington), and the the West and South are more rural. Also, for what ever reason, I have observed over time that predators tend to hunt near their living environment, and dump South. That’s not statistically significant, just something I’ve noticed in my experience.

2. Someone asked me – if we presume Matthew is responsible for the murder of Harrington and the disappearance of Graham – were the dump sites pre-meditated?  Given those assumptions, I say No. If we take the account of Jesse Matthew’s assault on a driver to be true, he is very impulsive (consider the 1,300 mile run to Galveston).   So, a guy who reacts, then figures out what he’s going to do later. No premeditation, though on the prowl. An opportunistic predator. Though I would say he’s learned from experience: impulsive in the heat of the moment, but over time, he’s learned to put contingencies in place.  

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U-Va. seeks to cope with trauma after sophomore #HannahGraham vanished #MorganHarrington #JesseMatthew

Well they’re all “tranquil academical villages in a bucolic settings”… until you scratch the surface.

Chapel Hill was just that when Wendell Williamson went on his shooting rampage in 1995. We certainly pissed-in-the-Lennoxville-party-punch when evidence suggested the burb of Sherbrooke, and home to both Champlain College and Bishop’s University, had a problem with sexual assaults on campus.

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I feel terrible for the parents. Two weeks is a long time. From The Washington Post:

CHARLOTTESVILLE — Orange ribbons adorn lapels and backpacks throughout the campus here known as the Grounds, a reminder that the University of Virginia yearns for the return of sophomore Hannah Graham three weeks after she vanished in the night.

Anxiety over what befell the 18-year-old from Fairfax County, believed to be a kidnapping victim, grips the U-Va. community even as officials redouble efforts to protect students and provide counseling to those in need.

It is a jarring moment for the elite public university that founder Thomas Jefferson, the nation’s third president, envisioned as a tranquil “academical village” in a bucolic setting.
The alleged abduction followed two other widely publicized crimes against young women that occurred around here in the recent past: the abduction and death of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington, 20, after she attended a rock concert at a U-Va. arena in October 2009, and the death of U-Va. student Yeardley Love, 22, when an ex-boyfriend attacked her in a drunken rage in May 2010.

Harrington’s case remains unsolved. Her body was found in a field 10 miles south of here in January 2010. But the arrest of Charlottesville resident Jesse L. “LJ” Matthew Jr., 32, on a charge of abducting Graham with intent to defile, provided what police call a “new forensic link” in the earlier case, a link two people close to the investigation say is Matthew’s DNA.
John and Sue Graham, the parents of missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham, released a statement Saturday begging for those who have information on their daughter’s whereabouts to come forward. (City of Charlottesville)
Now this school of 23,000 students — a point of pride for Virginia and regarded among the nation’s best universities — is enduring a trauma with an unknown end. Claudia Kuchler, 19, a sophomore from Centreville, said Graham’s disappearance Sept. 13 cast a pall over the Grounds.

“You could feel it in the air, it was palpable,” Kuchler said late last week. “There was a gloomy aura over everything.”
Parties were canceled, she said, including a birthday celebration for Kuchler’s friend Alana Ama, 19, a sophomore from Falls Church. Instead they joined thousands at a candlelight vigil off the iconic Lawn in the first week after their classmate vanished.

Then Kuchler and Ama tried to figure out what to do next.

They stopped tuning in to social media after stories about Graham deluged the Internet, updates that felt overwhelming. The students — who, like Graham, live off the Grounds — also changed their routines. Once comfortable walking alone at night, they now go in groups and map out plans for bus or cab rides.

“Before, I never thought twice,” Kuchler said.
For university officials, the answer to what to do next is complex.

They are tending to the worries of students, with special attention to those close to Graham, such as members of the school’s alpine ski club. They extended hours at the counseling and psychological services center, and they are planning to add staff there to handle a spike in requests for help.

They added a fourth safe-ride van to a fleet that ferries students in the dark when buses aren’t available. They convened a group of 17 administrators and students to scrutinize safety from top to bottom. That means a fresh look at where on the Grounds a stairwell or a parking lot might need more light, where off the Grounds a landlord might be urged to install a surveillance camera, and what could be gleaned about safety procedures from urban schools such as Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
They also are seeking to reassure parents, alumni and the wider world that Charlottesville remains not only a premier college destination, but also a secure one. Like 78 other U.S. schools, U-Va. is facing federal scrutiny for its handling of sexual violence reports amid a national focus on sexual assault on the nation’s campuses. Last year, the university police force recorded 15 reports of rape or forcible fondling, according to a 2013 Clery Act report. Charlottesville police have investigated 28 cases of rape or fondling so far this year, according to city data. The school hosted a national conference on the issue in February.

“U-Va. is as safe as we can make it,” university President Teresa A. Sullivan said in an interview with The Washington Post. “We continue to try to learn ways that we can make it safer. We are learning all the time.”

Sullivan, who teaches a class on labor markets that ends at 6:15 p.m. in Madison Hall, said she is keeping an eye on the autumn dusk. As days grow shorter, she has told her students: “I want to be sure you have a good way to get home.”

The president of a school founded nearly 200 years ago, famed for its architectural grace, cautioned against “overly romanticizing the idyllic aspects” of the U-Va. setting. “Let’s be real,” Sullivan said. “There are incidents that happen.” Indeed, Sullivan organized a dialogue on campus safety in September 2010 within weeks of taking office. That event was prompted by the Love murder. But the conversation has never really stopped.
Before Graham disappeared in September, many students were nonchalant about safety, said sophomore Morgan Phelps.

“People think that they are invincible and that ‘bad things are not going to happen to me’ and ‘I’ll be fine walking two blocks home alone at night,’ ” said Phelps, 19, of Chesapeake, Va. She lives in the same off-campus apartment building as Graham. “An event like this has really opened our eyes.”

Others, though, were already mindful of safety this fall because of a groundswell of national attention on prevention of sexual assault on campus.

Graham’s disappearance “has made students more conscious and aware of the ways that we can look out for one another,” said Sara Surface, 20, a junior from Richmond who is active in a campaign against sexual violence called Hoos Got Your Back. “Now more than ever people are reaching out to their friends [about] how they can be there through this rough time.”

For many here, one of the biggest challenges is that no one knows how long the rough time will last, or how it will end.

Allen W. Groves, U-Va.’s dean of students, said he remembers the 2:30 a.m. wake-up call from police with news about Love.

“You knew right away that something had happened, that it was bad and someone had died,” Groves said. The university’s student support team then mobilized in response to the death, standard practice for schools everywhere. Groves keeps a white ribbon pinned to the shade of a desk lamp in his office as a reminder of Love.

By contrast, there are no answers yet on Graham. An extensive and expanding search for her enters its third week Sunday.

On Saturday, Sue and John Graham, Hannah’s parents, thanked police and the university community for helping in that search and pleaded for more information that might lead to her whereabouts.

“We appeal to you to come forward and tell us where Hannah can be found,” the family said in a statement. “John has already said that this is every parent’s worst nightmare. That is true, but it is also a nightmare for our son, James, for Hannah’s grandparents and other members of our family, as well as for all of Hannah’s many friends here in Charlottesville and beyond. Please, please, please help end this nightmare for all of us. Please help us to bring Hannah home.”

For Jenna Van Dyck and Hallie Pence, two of Graham’s friends in the ski club, the tear-filled days since Sept. 13 have taken a toll.

Van Dyck, 20, who like Graham is from the Alexandria section of Fairfax County, and Pence, 21, of McGaheysville, Va., were with Graham in the hours before she was wandering the Downtown Mall and sending text messages indicating that she was lost and was looking for help. The two juniors were among the first to call police to report her missing.

“There’s a sense of numbness now,” Pence said. “We are exhausted. You could run yourself absolutely dry if you let everything get to you.”

Van Dyck said the tight-knit ski club, which has 439 members, is beginning to prepare for the worst.

“Whenever I hear a siren, it makes me hopeful that they could be responding to something for Hannah,” Van Dyck said. “But gaining closure would be a relief at this point.”
Van Dyck and Pence are edging back into the college routine. Van Dyck said that she’s beginning to pay more attention in class, instead of losing focus because of her worries about Graham, and that she’s once again sleeping through the night.

Among friends, Van Dyck and Pence said, they tend to ask, “How are you doing?” rather than “Are you okay?”

“Because no one is okay,” Pence said.

Professors are handing out orange ribbons to wear as tokens of solidarity with the missing student, said Abraham Axler, 19, president of the Class of 2017.

Students in recent days also have been sending thank-you notes to Charlottesville police and search-and-rescue teams working to find Graham. “Bring Hannah Home,” a message that her friends painted on the landmark Beta Bridge, still greets people walking to and from class. But as days pass, Axler said, the outlook appears more grim.

“There’s getting to be a lot of frustration,” said Axler, who’s from New York. “There’s a lot of questions, and it’s wearing people down.”

Lani Galloway, 20, a senior from McLean, was among a group of U-Va. students, including Graham, who spent last spring break helping rebuild homes after tornados hit Tuscaloosa, Ala. She said Graham showed poise with a circular saw and meticulous attention to detail. “She gave it her all,” Galloway said.

Galloway walks around town with a pink bottle of pepper spray hooked to a key chain, which she bought after hearing about some stabbings that occurred last summer near the school.

Galloway said she was shaken by news of the forensic link between Graham’s case and the investigation into Harrington’s death.

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Interactive Map #JesseMatthew #HannahGraham #MorganHarrington

I’m not seeing very helpful maps, so I made my own (just click and navigate). These are the facts. I may add some more speculative points later:

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I have other crime maps. Mostly for Canadian cases, and the Rocky Mount Serial Killer case here in North Carolina (click on the PAGES link above).

 

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#HannahGraham #JesseMatthew twice accused of college sex assaults

The Washington Post is reporting that Jesse Matthew was twice accused of sexual assault at two Virginia college campuses:

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The suspect in the disappearance of University of Virginia sophomore Hannah Graham was accused of sexual assaults at two Virginia colleges he attended, and he left each school shortly after each allegation, according to school officials.

The alleged assaults occurred within an 11-month span from 2002 to 2003 as Jesse L. “LJ” Matthew Jr. moved from Liberty University in Lynchburg to Christopher Newport University in Newport News. Police investigated each report, but neither resulted in a criminal case, according to the Lynchburg prosecutor and a review of online court records in Newport News.

Matthew’s attorney, James L. Camblos III, declined to comment on the allegations, which happened more than a decade ago, were investigated and went nowhere. “The events occurred in 2002 and 2003,” Camblos said Wednesday. “I am not aware of the particular details of either event, therefore I cannot comment on them.”

Matthew, 32, is now accused of abducting Graham, 18, who went missing Sept. 13 after she was seen walking with Matthew in downtown Charlottesville. Police have charged Matthew with abduction with intent to defile, meaning they believe he intended to sexually assault her. Police have not disclosed their evidence for that charge. The search for Graham, now more than two weeks old, has not been successful.

Christopher Newport confirmed the sexual assault allegation against Matthew on Wednesday in response to a public-records request by The Washington Post. School spokeswoman Lori Jacobs said records indicate that Matthew was accused of a sexual assault on campus on Sept. 7, 2003, which campus police investigated. Jacobs declined to say what action was taken after the allegation or how the case was resolved. Matthew left the university less than a week later.

 

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#JesseMatthew #HannahGraham : Suspect now linked to 4 attacks on women

Things are not looking good for Jesse Matthew. The Washington Post / Associated Press are now reporting he is  linked  to attacks on 4 women. Up until now, a lot of these connections were speculation on the part of 3rd rate media outlets. Now it’s coming from direct sources /  police and FBI:

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— Hannah Graham, 18. Matthew is being held on a charge of abducting with intent to sexually molest this University of Virginia student, who disappeared early Sept. 13, after witnesses saw them walking off together in downtown Charlottesville.

— Morgan Harrington, 20. Police said Matthew’s arrest in the Graham case provided a “forensic link” that represents a “significant break” in slaying of the Virginia Tech student, whose body was found three months after she disappeared at a Metallica concert on the Charlottesville campus in 2009.

— Unidentified 26-year-old woman. The FBI said in 2012 that DNA evidence matches Harrington’s killer with the rapist of a woman who was grabbed from behind while walking home from a grocery store in northern Virginia in 2005. The man fled when he was startled by a passerby, police said.

— Unidentified university student. Matthew was accused of raping a fellow student at Liberty University, where he played as a defensive lineman on the football team from 2000 to 2002. The prosecutor said the complainant declined to press charges.

 

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#HannahGraham = #MorganHarrington : What the police said:

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Morgan Harrington

Here are some thoughts on the investigation into the disappearance of  Hannah Graham:

On Monday, September 29th Virginia State Police released a very provocative statement which seemingly linked the Graham disappearance to the murder of Morgan Harrington, and to the suspect now in custody, Jesse Matthew. Here’s what the Virginia State Police stated:

“For the past five years, the Virginia State Police has been aggressively pursuing the investigation into the disappearance and death of 20-year-old Morgan D. Harrington of Roanoke, Va. Last week, the arrest of Jesse L. Matthew Jr., 32, of Charlottesville, Va., provided a significant break in this case with a new forensic link for state police investigators to pursue. There is a still a great deal of work to be done in regards to this investigation and we appreciate the public’s patience as we move forward.”

People can infer what they want from this statement, but everyone should be careful, at this point, to not read too much into it (the full text may be viewed here).

Hannah Graham

Hannah Graham

What the statement doesn’t say, but what headlines are repeating throughout the media is the following:

1. That there is DNA evidence linking Jesse Matthew to the murder of Morgan Harrington and the disappearance of Hannah Graham.

2. That Jesse Matthew is a suspect in both cases.

At this point neither of these statements are true, and the implication that they are factual risks severely compromising these investigations.

Forensic evidence can be DNA evidence, but it is not exclusively DNA evidence. Forensic evidence can be a fingerprint, it can also be an object like a piece of paper.

As well, although implied, the “forensic link” is not necessarily from Jesse Matthew.

I believe the statement from the Virginia State Police is deliberately confusing because they are purposely using the media and public speculation to achieve some specific, but at this time unknown outcome related to all three individuals.

But there are great dangers in speculation. Media feedback loops lead to bad assumptions, which lead to labels like Jesse Matthew is “a monster”, or that Hannah Graham was “brutally murdered”.  At this point in time, none of that has been confirmed.

Clearly the Virginia State Police has made some missteps in the past with criminal investigations, but we are still only 2 weeks into Hannah Graham’s disappearance. At this point, it would be best to step back and let the police and the FBI do their jobs.

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