'Not Guilty’ Pleas in Fairfax Crimes

'Not Guilty’ Pleas in Fairfax Crimes

Jesse Matthew slated for March 2015 trial.


Jesse L. Matthew, Jr.

On Oct. 20, a Fairfax County grand jury indicted Jesse L. Matthew Jr. in connection with a 2005 attack on a 26-year-old City of Fairfax woman. Last week, he officially entered his pleas in Circuit Court, and now the case against him is moving forward in the judicial system.

The crime occurred Sept. 24, 2005 around 10 p.m. The victim had just finished grocery shopping at the Jermantown Road Giant Foods store and was on her way home on foot, carrying her groceries, when she was assaulted.

According to City of Fairfax police, the woman lived three or four blocks from the Giant, in the Oxford Row townhouses on Rock Garden Drive. She was walking down her street and had nearly reached her steps when, said police, a man grabbed her from behind and carried to the park/swimming-pool area. There, he choked and sexually assaulted her and then fled; he was last seen running south toward Fairhaven Court.

Police investigated, but years passed and – although the case remained open – nothing significant happened until summer 2010, when a positive DNA match was made, tying the murderer of a college student to the Fairfax woman’s assailant.

That student was 20-year-old Virginia Tech sophomore Morgan Harrington, who vanished outside a Metallica concert in Charlottesville in October 2009. Morgan’s body was found in a pasture, three months later; and in summer 2010, authorities linked her killer’s DNA to the person who abducted and sexually assaulted the Fairfax woman in September 2005.

According to court records, DNA evidence obtained from one of the Fairfax victim’s fingernails after her attack reportedly matches Matthew’s DNA. She’s currently out of the country, but is expected to return to Virginia to testify against him at his trial.

Matthew, 32, of Charlottesville, is charged with attempted capital murder, abduction with intent to defile and object sexual penetration in connection with her case. And last Friday, he pleaded not guilty to each offense. Judge Dennis Smith then set his trial date for March 9, 2015. Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Morrogh is the prosecutor; public defender Dawn Butorac is representing Matthew.

He’s also charged in Charlottesville with abduction with intent to defile UVA student Hannah Graham, whose lifeless body was found last month. Authorities say surveillance footage shows Matthew with her shortly before she disappeared on Sept. 13, 2014.