The Hannah Graham "Person Of Interest" Fled Cops, Who Promptly Issued An Arrest Warrant
The Hannah Graham case just saw a bizarre twist: A 32-year-old man who police believe was the last one to see Graham the night she went missing in Charlottesville, Virginia is now wanted on charges of reckless driving. The only person of interest identified in the Hannah Graham case, Jesse Leroy Matthew, allegedly fled police on Saturday after showing up unexpectedly at the Charlottesville police station.
According to Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo, Matthew went to the police station on Saturday after he found out that authorities were looking for him. He reportedly asked for the name of a lawyer, and eventually spoke with one. Following the brief discussion, Matthew took off in his car.
Reuters reports that police openly followed Matthew as he sped down the highway in an attempt, they believe, to escape them. Matthew was driving at an "alarming" speed and may have endangered other drivers on the road, "so much so that they had to disengage for their protection and protection of other people," Longo said at a news conference on Sunday.
A warrant has been issued for Matthew's arrest for reckless driving. He has not been charged in the disappearance of the 18-year-old University of Virginia student, but as the only identified person of interest, Longo said:
I believe that Jesse Matthew was the last person she was seen with before she vanished off the face of the Earth. Because it’s been a week, and we can’t find her.
However, Longo also made it clear to reporters that he doesn't want to have "tunnel vision just because we have a name." At this time, it's unclear if Charlottesville police have any other leads in the case.
Graham disappeared on Sept. 13 after a night of drinking and socializing with friends. She was last heard from at around 1:20 a.m. that morning, when she sent friends a series of worried text messages, saying she was lost after leaving an off-campus party.
Police have been using statements from friends and witnesses, cellphone information and surveillance footage to piece together a timeline of Graham's last-known night. Security cameras from stores inside a downtown Charlottesville pedestrian mall caught Graham wandering past a pizzeria and jewelery store. Those videos, as well as eyewitness accounts, also show Matthew and Graham together just after 1 a.m. on Saturday morning.
Authorities believe Graham and Matthew went to a bar in the pedestrian mall, where they ordered drinks. They reportedly left together, and police say Graham most likely got in Matthew's burnt orange Chrysler coupe.
On Friday, police were able to seize Matthew's car, and later received a warrant to search his apartment. However, they did not have enough evidence to take him into custody.
At Sunday's news conference, Longo publicly asked Mattew to cooperate with law enforcement. "We want to talk to Jesse Matthew. We want to talk to him," Longo said.
Graham's parents also made their first public appearance on Sunday. John Graham said the situation is "every parent's worst nightmare" and pleaded for those with information on their missing daughter to come forward. "We need to find out what happened to Hannah to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else," John Graham said.
Her father also expressed gratitude for the roughly 1,500 volunteers who came out for the massive weekend search:
We have been utterly overwhelmed this week by the generosity of spirit of everybody we have met – and many more besides whom we’ve been unable to meet. We understand that over a thousand volunteers have been out combing Charlottesville, looking for our girl, yesterday and today.
A $50,000 reward is being offered by the Charlottesville Police Department for tips or information that could lead to Graham.