The Violent Threat Near UVA that Rolling Stone Downplayed

by Jim Geraghty

There is one more bitter, tragic irony to Rolling Stone’s erroneous coverage of allegations of gang rape at the University of Virginia. Evidence is mounting that young women on the campus indeed faced a violent threat for a long time. It just didn’t come from fraternities or the student body.

On September 13, 18-year-old University of Virginia student Hannah Graham disappeared; authorities recovered her remains from a rural part of Albemarle County, Va., on October 18. Police arrested Jesse Matthew Jr. on September 25, and he was charged in the disappearance of Graham.

What’s astounding is how many young women disappeared in such a short period of time around the University of Virginia’s campus:

Hannah Graham is the fifth young woman in five years to vanish within a few miles of Route 29, the main highway which runs through Charlottesville.

Nineteen-year-old Samantha Ann Clarke, who vanished after leaving her Orange County town house in September 2010, 19-year-old DaShad Laquinn Smith, who disappeared in Charlottesville in November 2012, and 17-year-old Alexis Murphy, who was last seen near Lynchburg, Va. in August of 2013 and whose car was found in Charlottesville, remain missing. . . . Morgan Harrington, a 20-year-old Virginia Tech student, disappeared from the University of Virginia’s John Paul Jones Arena while attending a rock concert in October 2009.

HelpSaveTheNextGirl.com collected 13 cases of women disappearing from central Virginia since 2009 — some young, some old, some white, some black. It is far from clear that they are all the crimes of the same perpetrator, but there are unnerving similarities in several of the cases.

Then there’s this chilling detail:

Sources confirm that at least two local cab employees informed federal and state investigators that Jesse Matthew Jr. — the man behind bars for the abduction of missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham — was working as a cab driver the night murdered Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington disappeared.

What is the one thing everyone says when a young woman has had too much to drink? “Call her a cab.”

In the Rolling Stone article, there’s a brief reference to Graham and Matthew, attempting to shoehorn the crime into the article’s established narrative about a “rape culture” on campus:

Suspect Jesse Matthew Jr., a 32-year-old UVA hospital worker, will be charged with Hannah Graham’s “abduction with intent to defile,” and a chilling portrait will emerge of an alleged predator who got his start, a decade ago, as a campus rapist. Back in 2002, and again in 2003, Matthew was accused of sexual assault at two different Virginia colleges where he was enrolled, but was never prosecuted. In 2005, according to the new police indictment, Matthew sexually assaulted a 26-year-old and tried to kill her. DNA has also reportedly linked Matthew to the 2009 death of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington, who disappeared after a Metallica concert in Charlottesville. The grisly dossier of which Matthew has been accused underscores the premise that campus rape should be seen not through the schema of a dubious party foul, but as a violent crime — and that victims should be encouraged to come forward as an act of civic good that could potentially spare future victims.

Jesse Matthew Jr. does not “fit the narrative” of the article’s spoiled, entitled, privileged, out-of-control frat boys:

This is one more consequence of “narrative journalism”: When you set out to write the evil-fraternities story, you end up missing the serial-killer-stalks-campus story.

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