Remains Found In Hannah Graham Search May Be The Missing UVA Student
Human remains were found during the search for a missing University of Virginia student, authorities announced on Saturday. The discovered remains are believed to be those of Hannah Graham, the 18-year-old student who disappeared in the early morning hours of Sept. 13, just a few blocks from the UVA campus in downtown Charlottesville. The remains have yet to be identified, but Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo said Graham's family has already been notified of the discovery.
Charlottesville authorities made the somber announcement during a Saturday evening news conference. Authorities called it a "significant development" in the case, which racked the Charlottesville community over the last month. However, Longo emphasized that this was a "preliminary discovery," with forensic testing pending.
Investigators discovered the remains while searching an abandoned property off Old Lynchburg Road in Albemarle County on Saturday morning. "These are human remains and forensic tests need to be conducted to determine the identification of those remains," the police chief said.
Longo said that it's unlikely authorities will have more information on the case in the near future. "This investigation is complicated. It's a complex criminal investigation," he said. Albermale Police Chief Steve Sellers added during the news conference: "Sadly, this is now a death investigation."
Sellers said the Medical Examiner’s Office in Richmond, Virginia, will conduct an autopsy to determine the cause of death. At this time, details of the evidence or items found at the scene on Old Lynchburg Road are unconfirmed, but local TV station WAVY reports that the remains were found in a shallow grave. A source close to the investigation told the news station K-9 units were taken to the site on Saturday morning, which led to the discovery.
Graham was last heard from at around 1:20 a.m. on Sept. 13, when she texted her friend saying she was walking alone and lost, trying to find an off-campus party. Surveillance footage from local businesses showed Graham wandering through a pedestrian mall in downtown Charlottesville, looking disoriented. Jesse Matthew, who was arrested in connection with the case, can be seen on the surveillance videos following Graham. The pair eventually entered Tempo, a restaurant and bar, together, where they ordered drinks. "He seemed to be excited," Tempo owner Brice Cunningham told USA Today.
Matthew was arrested and charged with abduction with intent to defile on Sept. 24 while camping on a beach in Galveston, Texas. He had just fled Virginia days earlier. Since his arrest, forensic evidence linking Matthew to the 2009 murder of Virgina Tech student Morgan Harrington was uncovered by Virginia State Police. Harrington's remains were also found in Albermarle County.Image: Getty Images