It's been three weeks since University of Virginia sophomore Hannah Graham disappeared just a few blocks from the campus, and the whereabouts of the 18-year-old are still unknown even though a suspect is currently in custody. On Saturday, Hannah Graham's parents released a video asking for information about their missing daughter. They pleaded for help to "end this nightmare" that has been racking the community of Charlottesville, Virginia, for weeks.
Graham was last seen in the early hours of Saturday, Sept. 13, when she left an off-campus party alone. She reportedly sent a text message to her friend around 1:20 a.m., saying she was lost in the downtown area. Security-camera footage from businesses in the area captured Graham walking past a gas station and an Irish pub, as well as wandering through a pedestrian mall.
Although 32-year-old Jesse Matthew has been arrested in connection with the case, and the Charlottesville Police Department has received thousands of tips over the last three weeks, Graham's location is a mystery. Her parents, Sue and John Graham, pleaded for answers on Saturday:
Somebody listening to me today either knows where Hannah is, or knows someone who has that information. We appeal to you to come forward and tell us where Hannah can be found. John has already said that this is every parent’s worst nightmare … Please, please, please help end this nightmare for all of us. Please help us to bring Hannah home.
Sue and John Graham also thanked the police and professional search teams, as well as the thousands of Virginia residents who came out to help search for the missing UVA student. Sue Graham added that the award for Hannah Graham's return is now $100,000 — a reward made possible by the contributions of Virginia residents, UVA students and alumni.
As Sue and John Graham released their tearful video on Saturday, a search team of more than 100 people continued to comb the area, The Associated Press reported. The search is now focusing on fields, farms and meadows outside Charlottesville. "It still takes boots on the ground," Mark Eggeman, search and rescue coordinator for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, told The AP.
Charlottesville resident and former college football player Jesse Matthew has been charged with abduction with intent to defile in connection with Graham's disappearance, but he hasn't provided any information on her whereabouts. Authorities recently said that forensic DNA evidence has linked Matthew to the 2009 rape and murder of Virgina Tech student Morgan Harrington. The 20-year-old student disappeared in October 2009, and her remains were found in a field in early 2010.
According to CNN, authorities are now looking into possible connections to previous missing college student cases, including 19-year-old Samantha Ann Clarke and 23-year-old Cassandra Morton, who's body was discovered in Campbell County, Virginia, in 2009.
Morton's family also spoke out this week, saying they hope police will finally bring closure to their family as well as Graham's. According WDBJ, no forensic evidence currently links Morton's murder to Matthew, but the Campbell County Sheriff's Office is now investigating him in light of the new break in the Harrington case.
Morton's father, Rawleigh Myers, told WDBJ: "I want to open the community up to everybody who knows whatever, anonymous calls, you ain't gotta give your name or nothing, and then we really need some more support."Image: Getty Image