Monday 16 December 2019

Suspect held over missing student

Galveston County Sheriff Henry Trochesset answers questions about the arrest of Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr. (AP)
Galveston County Sheriff Henry Trochesset answers questions about the arrest of Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr. (AP)

A man charged with abducting a missing British-born teenager has been captured in Texas - but there is still no sign of the University of Virginia student, authorities said.

Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr was arrested on a beach in Texas and is awaiting extradition to Virginia, police said.

The capture came the day after police announced they had probable cause to arrest Matthew on charges of abduction of Hannah Graham, an 18-year-old who went missing on September 13 in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo said an intensive search continues for Ms Graham, who moved from England to Virginia at the age of five.

"This case is nowhere near over," he told a news conference. "We have a person in custody but there's a long road ahead of us and that long road includes finding Hannah Graham."

Matthew was captured at a beach in the sparsely populated community of Gilchrist after police received a call reporting a suspicious person, the Galveston County Daily News reported.

The newspaper quoted Galveston County Sheriff Henry Trochesset as saying an officer responding to the call found a man who had pitched a tent on the beach with his car parked nearby. Mr Trochesset said a check of the car's plates revealed it was the vehicle sought in connection to the case. Authorities are trying to get a warrant to search the car, he added.

The case has spread fear through Charlottesville, a quiet community nestled around the University of Virginia. Authorities have increased patrols and a late-night transportation programme for students, who also have begun walking in pairs at night and are paying closer attention to their surroundings.

Ms Graham was a keen skier and saxophone player who had earned straight As six years in a row, according to family members and police. She met friends at a restaurant for dinner on September 12 before stopping by two parties at off-campus housing units, authorities said. They said she left the second party alone, and sent a text message to a friend saying she was lost.

Surveillance videos showed her walking, and at some points running, past a pub and a service station and then on to the Downtown Mall, a seven-block pedestrian strip where police believe she entered a bar with Matthew.

The university said Matthew had been employed at the University of Virginia Medical Centre since August 2012 as a patient technician in the operating room.

PA Media

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