A confessed murderer serving multiple life sentences for the slayings of two Virginia college students has been diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer and was transferred to a new prison this week to undergo treatment.
Jesse Matthew Jr., 37, pleaded guilty in 2016 to killing Morgan Harrington, a 20-year-old student at Virginia Tech, and Hannah Graham, an 18-year-old student at the University of Virginia. The two women were killed about five years apart, and Matthew Jr. was only connected to the Harrington case after police tied him to Graham’s killing.
Matthew was moved from Virginia’s Red Onion State Prison, in Wise County, to Sussex I State Prison on Monday. He confirmed to WTVR earlier this month he’d been diagnosed with the disease, which is reportedly in its most advanced stage and has traveled beyond the colon. The American Cancer Society pegged the current survival rate for stage 4 colon cancer at 14 percent in a 2017 study.
In October 2009, Harrington disappeared after she left a Metallica concert at UVA’s basketball arena. More than three months later, in January 2010, her body was found in a field roughly 10 miles south of Charlottesville.
“This is justice and perhaps karma.”
Years later, Graham disappeared after leaving an off-campus party alone in September 2014. Her body was found a month later — about six miles from where Harrington’s body was found.
Harrington’s mother told WTVR Matthew “doesn’t loom big in my mind.”
“He is contained and our mission is to help save the next girl, so I take comfort however this plays out,” Gil Harrington said. “This is justice and perhaps karma.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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