Hannah Graham's family pay tribute to her after killer is sentenced


The family of a British-born teenager murdered in the US have paid tribute to her after a hospital worker admitted killing her and another woman.

Jesse Matthew, 34, was handed four life terms after admitting the murders, on top of three life sentences for a 2005 rape, in order to avoid the death penalty.

Hannah Graham, 18, who moved to the US when she was about six, disappeared after a night out with friends in Charlottesville, Virginia, in September 2014.

The teenager's body was found five weeks later and a post-mortem showed she had been beaten and strangled or suffocated.

Her mother, Susan Graham, said her daughter was a heroine and that her death helped law enforcement officers arrest a "serial rapist".

She said she would miss cuddling her quick-witted daughter, who she described as "the most optimistic person we know". 

Ms Graham, a student at the University of Virginia, had dinner with friends on the evening of September 13 2014, before heading to parties away from the campus.

After leaving to head home alone she texted a friend to say she was lost and was spotted on CCTV walking unsteadily.

Later that evening she was caught by another camera leaving a restaurant near a Charlottesville mall.

She was walking alongside Matthew, who could be seen with his arm wrapped around her.

According to witnesses the killer had spent the night pestering women in bars.

Ms Graham was never seen alive again. Her body was discovered weeks later on abandoned property in Albemarle County, about 12 miles from the Charlottesville campus.

The scene was around six miles from where the remains of Matthew's second victim, Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington, 20, were discovered in 2009, although no killer was identified at the time.

Ms Harrington disappeared after being denied re-entry to a Metallica concert and was last seen alive hailing a taxi that matched one driven by Matthew at the time.

The discovery of Ms Graham's body in September 2014 sparked a manhunt for Matthew.

He was caught after detectives traced him to a beach in Texas. DNA tests later linked him to clothing warn by Ms Harrington, as well as the 2005 rape.

Ms Harrington's father, Daniel, told the court her family "cannot comprehend the selfish and inhumane action that took place that evening".

Matthew was also accused of raping students in 2002 and 2003 at Liberty University and Christopher Newport University, although the women dropped the charges.

Commenting for the first time, Matthew issued a statement through his lawyer saying he was "very sorry for what happened".