Police step up Hannah Graham search

Published: Monday 20th October 2014 by The News Editor

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After finding remains that could be British-born University of Virginia student Hannah Graham, police stepped up their search for evidence.

Officers interviewed nearby residents and picked through leaves on the side of a sparsely populated road, searching for any clues.

Forensic tests were needed to confirm whether the remains match the 18-year-old. They were discovered by a deputy on Saturday in a heavily wooded area of Albemarle County that is home to horse farms about 12 miles from the University of Virginia campus.

Ms Graham disappeared on September 13 after a night out with friends.

Her parents were notified that the remains were found, Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo said. It was not immediately clear how long it would take for them to be identified. Investigators also would not say if they had found anything else.

The last person seen with Ms Graham, 32-year-old Jesse Leroy Matthew, has been charged with abduction with intent to defile Ms Graham.

He is being held in the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail. A preliminary hearing is set for December 4.

The remains were discovered roughly six miles from where the body of 20-year-old Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington was found three months after she vanished in 2009.

Police have said forensic evidence connects Matthew to Ms Harrington’s killing, which in turn is linked by DNA to a 2005 sexual assault in northern Virginia. Matthew has not been charged over those cases.

Ms Graham met friends at a restaurant for dinner on September 12 before stopping by two off-campus parties. She left the second party alone and eventually texted a friend saying she was lost, authorities said.

In surveillance video, she can be seen walking unsteadily and even running at times, past a pub and a service station and then onto a seven-block strip of bars, restaurants and shops.

Yesterday, the area was buzzing with people having brunch at outdoor cafes on a brisk, sunny day. Ms Graham’s disappearance and the discovery of human remains was a frequent topic of conversation.

Many people said they hoped the identification of the remains brings closure to Ms Graham’s friends and family.

“Everybody was rattled. Everybody knew it was coming, but you still hope for the best. As much as you can prepare for it, you can never prepare for it,” said Claire Meyers, a University of Virginia nursing student who has friends who knew Ms Graham and Matthew.

Matthew was an operating room technician at the university’s hospital, where Ms Meyers works as a patient care assistant.

Albemarle County resident Bill Gnas, a pensioner who lives a few miles from where the remains were found, said helicopters flew overhead yesterday morning and there had been a constant police presence in the area for 24 hours.

Published: Monday 20th October 2014 by The News Editor

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