Published November 28, 2015
Authorities have arrested the suspect in the disappearance of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham after he was charged with felony abduction in the case.
Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo announced late Tuesday that 32-year-old Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr. had been located and arrested in Galveston, Texas, and is being extradited.
"This case is nowhere near over," Longo said. "We have a person in custody but we have a long road ahead of us, and that road includes finding Hannah Graham." Longo also said that the reward for information about Graham's disappearance is now up to $100,000.
Galveston County Judge Mark Henry told Fox News that someone reported Matthew as a "suspicious person" who was hanging around a beach in Gilcrest, near Galveston. After the police arrived and spoke to Matthew, they ran a check of his car's license plate, which turned up the Virginia "Fugitive from Justice" warrant. Henry said the person who made the initial report did not recognize Matthew as the suspect in Graham's disappearance.
Henry said that Matthew did not resist arrest and will appear in his court Thursday morning. The judge added that it should not take more than two days to extradite Matthew to Virginia, though the legal process can take up to 10 days.
Police have searched Matthew's apartment twice and his vehicle since Graham vanished in the early morning hours of Sept. 13, and were seen Tuesday removing clothing from his home. They have been tight-lipped about the investigation and did not specify how they determined there was probable cause to charge Matthew under the felony abduction statute, which includes "intent to defile."
On Saturday, Matthew stopped by the Charlottesville police station with several family members, after he was identified by police on surveillance video that included Graham, and asked for a lawyer, Longo said earlier in the week.
Matthew was provided with an attorney, but left the station after about one hour without offering any information to police. He then went to his grandmother’s house and was seen by officers driving from the home at a high rate of speed, which endangered others and led to reckless driving charges, according to the police chief.
Pleasants said investigators have questioned Matthew's mother and uncle, who accompanied him to the police station.
While police continued searching for Graham and struggled to make sense of what led to her disappearance, a vigil was scheduled Wednesday evening at her alma mater, West Potomac High School in northern Virginia. Graham was an alpine skier and alto saxophone player who had earned straight A's six years in a row, according to family members and police.
According to police, Graham met friends at a restaurant for dinner on Sept. 12 before stopping by two parties at off-campus housing units. She left the second party alone, police have said, 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 onto the Downtown Mall, a seven-block pedestrian strip where police believe she entered a bar with Matthew.
The university said he's been employed at the University of Virginia Medical Center since Aug. 12, 2012, as a patient technician in the operating room.
The charges against the 6-foot-2, 270-pound Matthew surprised Dave Hansen, who first met him about 11 years ago when Hansen served as an assistant pastor at an area church.
"I always thought he was a gentle giant, just a nice guy," Hansen said. "He seemed genuine with his faith and spirituality. ... I don't see him doing this at all, but that's usually the case, I guess."
Hansen said he's only kept up with Matthew through Facebook, but ran into him at the university's medical center within the last year. He said the soft-spoken Matthew greeted him in an elevator with a high-five.
Matthew attended Liberty University from 2000 to 2002, said officials with the Lynchburg school founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell. The school's athletics website listed him as a defensive lineman on the football team.
More recently he also served as a part-time volunteer for the football team at The Covenant School, a private Christian pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade school in Charlottesville. Officials said his involvement with the school began last month following interviews with the athletic director and head football coach, as well as normal background and reference checks.
After Matthew was named a person of interest in Graham's disappearance, school officials said in a letter that he will "no longer be working with our football program while this matter is being clarified and resolved."
While Matthew has had past brushes with the law, the details of those cases are not clear.
Online court records show Matthew was convicted of trespassing in 2010 but provide no details about the incident. Details also were unavailable for two other charges of assault and attempted grand larceny relating to a 2009 incident that were not prosecuted. Matthew, who had a taxi permit from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles from 2007 through 2010, also has several traffic infractions, records show.
Fox News' Kristin Brown and The Associated Press contributed to this report.