Yesterday while searching for missing University of Virginia student, Hannah Graham, police came across human remains. Graham went missing on September 13 with a surveillance video capturing the moment she vanished.
According to authorities, Graham met up with friends at a local restaurant the night of September 12 and then headed to two off-campus parties. She left the second party alone and after a short time, sent a friend a message that she was lost. On surveillance, Graham is seen walking unsteadily past a pub and service station, before going down a long pedestrian strip to include the Tempo Restaurant.
That same night, 32-year-old Jesse Leroy Matthew, Jr., was drinking at the bar where he encountered Graham. Brice Cunningham, owner of the Tempo Restaurant, said that Graham appeared to have been intoxicated as walked away with Matthew, never to be seen again.
To confirm if the discovered remains are in fact Hannah Graham, further forensic testing is required. In a news conference, Chief Tim Longo with the Charlottesville Police Department confirmed that human remains had been found on an abandoned property in the southern part of Albemarle County by a search team from the Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Office and were transported to Richmond for a positive identification.
According to Col. Steve Sellers, police chief from Albemarle County, even though human remains have been discovered, there is still a lot of work to be done. At this time, no one can jump to conclusions that this is in fact Hannah Graham. He then asked for the public to be patient into what is now a new and ongoing homicide investigation.
Since the time of her disappearance, literally thousands of volunteers have spent countless hours searching for the 18-year-old University of Virginia student. Because of the surveillance video, Matthew was arrested, with a preliminary hearing set for December 4. If the human remains turn out to be that of Graham, it will certainly bolster the official’s case against Matthew.
A week before Graham went missing Longo described Matthew in detail but without providing a name. After being named a person of interest, he showed up at police headquarters and although he asked for an attorney, he went on the lam. With a search warrant in hand, Matthew was arrested a few days later in Galveston, Texas.
Upon his return to Virginia, Matthew was charged with abduction with the intent to defile, which under the state’s law is a violent felony that mandates the suspect to DNA testing. Using Matthew’s DNA, authorities linked him to another killing.
In turn, that case provided a forensic link to the rape of a Fairfax, Virginia woman in 2012, who survived the attack. Authorities also uncovered his name in a file from a sexual assault case dating back to 2003 on the Newport News campus where he had been a student. It was also discovered that while attending Liberty University, Matthew was accused of raping a student but because the woman declined to prosecute, the case was dropped.
To strengthen their case against Matthew in the disappearance and possible murder of Hannah Graham, authorities ask anyone who might have seen suspicious activity in the area of Old Lynchburg Road in Charlottesville to come forward or call the Albemarle County Police Department at 434-296-5807.