University of Virginia Student Disappears

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by Cate Tauriello

features - _hannah_graham_Chances are likely you’ve heard about the student from University of Virginia (UVA) who disappeared more than a week ago after an evening with her friends.

Hannah Graham is an 18 year old sophomore student at UVA who attended an off-campus party on the evening of September 12th, left the party in the early morning hours of the 13th, and walked into a downtown mall. She was believed to be with someone, a man, who is now a person of interest (POI) in this case. Security camera footage from the mall and street corners seem to be the last trace of evidence of Graham.

Hundreds of tips have been phoned into police in the Charlottesville, Virginia area, and police claim they are getting closer to who may know what happened to her. To recap, here’s the timeline of Graham’s disappearance:


Surveillance video shows Graham leaving her apartment complex to meet up with friends at a party off-campus.


Graham is seen on security camera outside an Irish pub on what police have stated to be a “night of heavy drinking.” Police interacted with the doorman who denied her entrance to the pub. Soon after, Graham is spotted on a different camera near a gas station running eastbound towards the downtown mall, more than a mile away and in the opposite direction of her apartment.


The last known location of Graham was in the mall, as footage shows, walking and meeting up with the man police have now labeled as a POI. In a press conference, it is stated that the two found themselves at a restaurant, Tempo. At some point during their time at the restaurant, the POI purchased alcohol for himself.


It has been reported that friends of Graham received a text from her telling them that she was lost between 14th and Wertland Streets. Investigators don’t think Graham was in the area at all, but do think it was possible that she typed the street names wrong or had autocorrect on her phone. They believe Graham was “fairly well intoxicated” and it’s almost impossible that someone that intoxicated could find themselves in the area she claimed to be near. Investigators are currently working with the Federal Bureau of Investigations to see if it’s possible to identify where the text was sent from.

Within 15 minutes after leaving the bar, police believe Graham got into the POI’s car and drove off.

This is not the first time a college-age female disappeared in the Charlottesville area. In fact, it’s the fifth time in five years within 50 miles of Charlottesville. The first occurrence was back in 2009 where Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington disappeared after a Metallica concert at UVA in October of that year. Her body was found three months later in rural farmland. Police have not found her murderer.

Her disappearance and murder sparked the Help Save the Next Girl campaign. Junior Claire Raimist is Walkersville High School’s chapter president. She said “I think that the fact that these things still happen is obviously a major issue. I think the police are handling it pretty well… I am praying for a good outcome.”

Other disappearances include DaShad Laquinn Smith who disappeared in 2012 while on her way to meet a man for a date, Samantha Ann Clarke in 2010 who mysteriously left her house and claimed she would be home by the next morning, and Alexis Murphy in 2012 who tweeted “Burg Bound” as she drove from Shipman and set course for Lynchburg. Her car was found abandoned in a parking lot.

None of the three girls’ bodies have been found and police have stated that there is no “factual information” to connect the five cases.

“We believe that it is entirely possible that Hanna Graham may have gotten into his [POI] vehicle,” said Police Chief Timothy Longo. The investigators seized the vehicle and items inside the apartment of the POI for a search warrant. On September 19th, police and investigators were at the apartment removing unidentified bags from the home. Longo explained he was not at liberty to disclose the items removed.

Longo asked for the public’s help on the 19th during the first press conference in front of City Hall and also said, “People saw Hannah and people saw him and people saw them together.” The POI is identified as a 32 year old African-American male with dreadlocks, named Jesse Matthew as learned in a second press conference led by Longo on September 21st.

On September 20th, more than one thousand volunteers helped look for Graham in the Charlottesville area and beyond. On the 21st, the Help Find Hannah Graham (HPHG) Facebook page posted that there were almost 700 less participants than Saturday’s search. People as far from Charlottesville as Baltimore, Maryland volunteered to help, and reports of Murphy’s aunt was searching for Graham as well.

The police, Graham’s parents, and the HPHG Facebook page has said many times if anyone has any information about  Graham that would be of help to investigators, even if it seems insignificant, call the tip line at 434-295-3851.



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