Morgan Dana Harrington: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know



The suspect in the recent disappearance of an 18-year-old University of Virginia student has been forensically linked to the cold-case rape and murder of a 20-year-old Virginia Tech student in 2009.

Police say Jesse Matthew Jr., arrested last week for the alleged abduction of Hannah Graham, is now also the suspect in the death of Morgan Harrington, who disappeared in 2009 and was found dead in 2010.

Meanwhile, Matthew was accused of a previous sexual assault, Harrington’s case was forensically linked to yet another sexual assault, and several other disappearances of young women in the area remain unsolved.

Here’s what you need to know about Matthew, Harrington and this break in her case.

1. Evidence Shows Harrington Had Contact With Matthew

Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said in an email, “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.”

Sources have said forensic evidence found from the abduction of missing UVA student Hannah Graham has matched with evidence that was found during the Morgan Harrington investigation, in association with suspect Jesse Matthew Jr. They have not explained what this evidence is, other than saying the evidence indicates Harrington had contact with Matthews the night she went missing.

2. Morgan Disappeared After a Metallica Concert

Morgan Harrington went missing on October 17, 2009, while attending a Metallica concert with friends at the John Paul Jones Arena. She was separated from the group and disappeared. The education major was last seen trying to get a ride home.

3. She Suffered Broken Bones & a Violent Death

Morgan’s remains were found on an Albemarle County farm, three months after she disappeared, by the farm’s owner. David Dass, while he was out checking his farm for rain and wind damage, stated, “I looked down and saw what looked like a human skull, and my first thought was that it was Morgan Harrington.”

The remains indicated broken bones and a violent death. Morgan’s mother, oncology nurse Gil Harrington, said, “He chooses to kill in a savage and brutal way, to break her bones before he murdered her.” Her father, psychologist Dan Harrington, confirmed his daughter’s skeleton showed “brutal damage.” Evidence also showed sexual assault.

A Pantera shirt, found near bushes where she was believed missing, was later confirmed to be Harrington’s.

4. Morgan’s Parents Annually Attend Virginia’s ‘Take Back The Night’ Rally

The Harringtons have remained active in special events after their daughter’s death, including University of Virginia’s “Take Back The Night” rally.
Take Back The Night is an annual event at UVA, in hopes of ending “the silence of dating sexual violence and aid in eliminating sexual violence in our community.”

A website was started in Morgan’s honor and to help find her, along with a Facebook page and Facebook group.

Metallica offered $50,000 on top of a $150,000 reward offered for information on Morgan’s disappearance.

5. Harrington’s Case Was Linked to a 2005 Sexual Assault

Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr., the suspect named in both Hannah Graham’s disappearance and now Harrington’s murder, was expelled from Liberty University in 2002 after he was accused of a rape for which he was never charged.

Meanwhile, Harrington’s case had been linked by DNA to a 2005 sexual assault in which the attacker was scared away but spotted, according to the FBI:

DNA recovered in the Harrington case was linked to an unknown offender in a September 2005 sexual assault in Fairfax City. A 26-year-old woman was attacked at night while walking home from a grocery store. The offender was scared away by a passerby — but the victim got a good look at him, enabling a Fairfax City Police artist to produce a sketch of the attacker.

Here’s the sketch made from the description given by the 2005 victim, which was used in the hunt for Harrington’s killer:

morgan harrington

A source tells the Daily Mail that Matthew was working as a cab driver when Harrington disappeared and was known to creepily offer girls free rides:

LJ got in trouble with work because he would pull up in his cab alongside girls walking along and he would ask random girls. He would say, ‘Hey, do you want a ride? I’ll take you wherever you want to go for free.’ One time he tried to follow one girl into her home.

In addition to Harrington and Graham, several more young women have recently disappeared in the Charlottesville area:

Read more about Matthew here:

Read more about Hannah Graham here: