Prosecutor: No evidence linking Graham, Murphy disappearances

WASHINGTON – Investigators have re-examined evidence from another missing person’s case involving the disappearance of a Nelson County teen as part of the search for a missing University of Virginia student but a Virginia prosecutor says there is no evidence linking the two cases.

Anthony Martin, the Nelson County commonwealth’s attorney, says that the FBI and Virginia State Police have re-reviewed surveillance video taken at a Lovingston gas station where 17-year-old Alexis Murphy was last seen in 2013.

Murphy’s car was later found in Charlottesville, where 18-year-old Hannah Graham disappeared in the early morning hours of Sept. 13.

Although Murphy’s body has never been found, Randy Allen Taylor was tried and convicted of her murder earlier this year.

Footage taken at the Liberty Gas station the night Murphy disappeared shows her walking behind an object that could resemble an orange Chrysler coupe driven by Jesse Matthew, the man charged in Charlottesville in connection with Graham’s disappearance.

But after examining the footage, investigators are “confident that the orange object is not a vehicle, but a portion of a sign hanging from the window,” according to a statement from the Nelson County commonwealth’s attorneys’ office.

According to the statement, there has been much speculation whether the man Taylor tried to implicate during his trial was Matthew.

But Martin says Matthew’s name never came up during the case. Taylor said another man, Dameon Bradley, was with Murphy when she left Taylor’s trailer. Bradley testified during Taylor’s trial and had an alibi for the time Murphy was missing.

Martin notes that Bradley has lighter skin and has a much smaller build than Matthew. He also drove a different style and color car.

“There is no credible evidence at this time that suggests any third party was involved in the Randy Taylor case and certainly no evidence at this time exists that Jesse Leroy Matthew, Jr. had anything to do with the disappearance of Alexis Murphy.”

Three other women have gone missing in the greater Charlottesville area during the past several years.

Samantha Ann Clarke, 19, vanished after leaving her Orange County town house in September 2010, and DaShad Laquinn Smith, who was also 19 and disappeared in Charlottesville in November 2012.

Morgan Harrington disappeared in 2009 after attending a concert at the University of Virginia. Her remains were found in 2010 at an Albemarle County farm.

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