Missing UVA student, Hannah Graham, 18, was last seen by friends back on Sept. 12. Her image was captured in several locations in the early morning hours of Sept. 13 by local surveillance video systems in Charlottesville, Virginia. Video also captured a suspect, Jesse Matthew, 32, of Charlottesville, following Hannah – and then walking with her – apparently with his arm around her just before she went missing.
And now, Hannah’s missing persons case has evolved into a murder investigation as officials revealed on Oct. 18 that human remains, believed to be Hannah’s, were discovered by searchers in an abandoned property in Albemarle County on Saturday afternoon, according to USA Today. Albemarle County surrounds Charlottesville.
Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo, a familiar face at press conferences throughout the 35 days that officials have been searching for Hannah, made the announcement last night about discovering those human remains. Longo shared that he made the ‘”difficult” phone call to Graham’s parents, John and Susan Graham of Alexandria, Va., “to share with them this preliminary discovery,”’ according to CNN.
“Countless hours, thousands of hours have been spent by law enforcement and volunteers in an effort to find Hannah,” Longo said. “We think they have proved their worth.”
A positive identification of the remains found yesterday have not yet been positively identified as Hannah’s. An autopsy will determine the final identification.
Matthew, seen on surveillance video with Hannah just before she disappeared, was found on a beach in Galveston, Texas, on Sept. 24, when he was taken into custody. Matthew was relocated to the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail and charged with abduction with intent to defile. Matthew has now been linked forensically to the death of another student, 20-year-old Morgan Harrington from Virginia Tech.
Harrington made national headlines after she disappeared from a Metallica concert at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville on Oct. 17, 2009. Three months after she went missing, Harrington’s remains were discovered in a nearby rural area.
Matthew is scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on Dec. 4. Officials are seeking the public’s help and want to know if anyone out there may have seen Matthew or a person fitting his description in Albermarle County. The remains discovered in that abandoned property yesterday are being taken to Richmond for an autopsy.