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Suspect in Hannah Graham case now back in Virginia

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Posted at 7:53 PM, Sep 26, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-27 14:05:10-04

(CNN) – Jesse Matthew, a suspect in the disappearance of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham, is being held in isolation in a Virginia jail cell, authorities said Saturday.

Authorities took Matthew to Charlottesville, Virginia, on Friday after he agreed not to fight extradition from Texas, where he had been taken into custody after police obtained a warrant for his arrest on Tuesday. Investigators think he was the last person with Graham.

He is charged with abduction with the intent to defile in the case, according to Charlottesville police.

He was offered two phone calls, but refused to make them, according to the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail. He’s sleeping on a mattress on the floor in a cell so spare that it doesn’t even have bathroom facilities, according to a jail official.

Graham was last seen September 13 in an area of Charlottesville known as the Downtown Mall. Police have asked owners of large parcels of property in surrounding counties to search their land and report back.

Authorities are offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of the 18-year-old, a second-year student the university.

Matthew willingly went to a Virginia police station over the weekend, when there was no warrant for his arrest, Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo said. He asked for a lawyer. They spoke and then left, police said.

Matthew’s father said his son is not the type to hurt anyone.

“For a big man, he’s as gentle as they come,” Jesse Matthew Sr. told CNN affiliate WTVR. “The only thing I could see, him, maybe trying to give the girl a ride or help her out.”

“To kill or hurt somebody, that’s not my son.”

Found camping on the beach

Authorities found Matthew on a Galveston County beach after deputies got a call about a suspicious person camping there. A license plate check revealed he was wanted, CNN affiliate KPRC reported.

Matthew did not resist arrest, police said.

Mike Rodenberg, a vacationer who was fishing near the campsite when Matthew was arrested, said Matthew asked about why he was throwing some of his catch back.

“He seemed real nice. He was real soft-spoken,” Rodenberg said. “(He) said he was down here from New Jersey and was looking for a job. I told him if I caught another red fish he could have it.”

Matthew told him that his name was George, Rodenberg said. Nothing really seemed out of the ordinary until the police showed up.

Questioned in another case

In addition to Graham’s disappearance, Matthew also has been questioned in connection with an alleged sexual assault nearly 12 years ago.

According to a statement from Lynchburg police, a woman reported she was raped on the campus of Liberty University on October 17, 2002. Matthew was a student there for three years and played on the football team.

However, no charges were filed because the woman didn’t want to go forward with the case, and investigators determined there wasn’t enough evidence to arrest Matthew back then, said Michael Doucette, the commonwealth’s attorney for Lynchburg, Virginia.

Matthew told authorities that the woman consented, Doucette said, adding that there were no witnesses.