Liz Levey, ‘Doah Staff Writer
October 1, 2014
On the evening of Sept. 13, one of the most frightening things happened: A young college student goes missing. 18-year-old Hannah Graham, a University of Virginia student, went out that night not thinking that she wasn’t going to return back to her apartment that night.
On the evening of Sept. 12, the Northern Virginia native was seen at a party before friends saw her at an apartment complex a couple of blocks away from the party. About 12:45 a.m. on Sept. 13, a surveillance camera caught her outside of a pub, about three-quarters of a mile from the apartment complex. A doorman turned her away at the pub. Security camera videos and witnesses’ accounts have helped investigators piece together Graham’s movements on the morning of Sept. 13. At 1 a.m., additional surveillance video captured Graham walking in a main street area called the Downtown Mall. Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo has said Graham was likely intoxicated, but shortly after she texted friends that she was lost around 1:20 a.m., sightings of her came to a halt.
A man was seen following her, and during police questioning, he said that he had been trailing the 18-year-old because he was concerned about her, but that he stopped when he saw another man put his arm around her. That man has since been identified as the suspect in Graham’s disappearance, Jesse Matthew. Matthew was also seen on surveillance video walking behind Graham on the Downtown Mall. This is where Graham was seen with Matthew and spotted getting into his car.
By the time Hannah Graham’s parents, John and Sue Graham, first spoke about their daughter’s disappearance on Sunday, Sept. 21, the 18-year-old UVA second-year had been missing for more than a week. Mr. Graham offered a plea to anyone who might have seen her in the early hours of Saturday morning, when she vanished after being spotted with a man on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall. “Did anybody see Hannah?” he asked, pointing at the throng of reporters in the City Space at the east end of the Downtown Mall. “Did you see Hannah? Did you see Hannah? Who saw Hannah? Somebody did.”
Although Jesse “L.J.” Matthew has been in police custody since his arrest on Wednesday on a beach in Galveston, Texas, he hasn’t given police any new information to help them locate the woman he’s accused of abducting, according to Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo. Police have charged Matthew, 32, with “abduction with intent to defile” the 18-year-old Graham. “Defile,” in a legal context, means “sexually molest.” Authorities said they had probable cause to support the charge against Matthew after twice searching his apartment and gathering evidence they have not described; saying it ultimately will be presented at trial.
For any parent, the idea of a child gone missing is an unimaginable horror, and for Gil and Dan Harrington, the disappearance of Hannah Graham and the subsequent national media firestorm her case has stirred is the grimmest deja vu. Nearly five years ago, the Harringtons’ then-20-year-old daughter Morgan vanished after leaving a Metallica concert at the John Paul Jones Arena and being denied re-entry. In the most recent development on the Graham case is that now Matthew has been connected to Morgan Harrington’s disappearance case. The two have been linked by forensic evidence. Investigators would not say what Matthew could have done with Harrington, but that the forensic evidence match showed Harrington had some sort of contact with Matthew the night she disappeared outside John Paul Jones arena on Oct. 17, 2009. Her remains were found in January 2010 on an Albemarle County farm.
What is sad is that the search for Graham has gone cold but teams are still searching and are reaching out to the community for any tips that could lead to her being found. If you know anything, please contact any of these sources.
Call the DEDICATED TIP LINE 434-295-3851 You can now email tips to CPDtips@Charlottesville.org Your call can be anonymous 434.977.4000 or Crimestoppers@albemarle.org