After a long search for Hannah Graham, the 18-year-old University of Virginia student who disappeared over a month ago, a body has been found.
While further forensic tests need to be completed to confirm that the remains are that of Graham, police have notified Graham’s parents of the discovery.
Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo spoke at a Saturday evening press conference about the discovery. Bay News 9 reported about the conference, stating that volunteer searchers discovered the unidentified body around noon Saturday in an “abandoned property” along Old Lynchburg Road in the Walnut Creek Park area of Albemarle County. This is the same region, about five miles away, that police found the body of 20-year-old Morgan Harrington, a Virginia Tech student who vanished in 2009.
According to police, a “forensic link” was found between these two cases last month after a suspect, 32-year-old Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr. was arrested in Graham’s disappearance and charged with abduction with intent to defile.
Due to the location of the remains, Albermarle County Police are taking over the investigation, which has now been ruled a “death investigation.”
“Today’s discovery is a significant development and we have a great deal of work ahead of us,” County Police Chief Steve Sellers said. “We cannot and will not jump to any conclusions regarding today’s discovery, so I ask for the public’s patience as we move forward and pursue what is now a new ongoing death investigation.”
According to NBC Washington, a surveillance video obtained by police on September 12, the night that Graham disappeared, that shows a man wrapping his arm around the missing student. The man was identified by police as Matthew. Two weeks after Graham’s disappearance, the hospital worker and former taxi driver was arrested in Texas and extradited to Virginia where he is in custody awaiting his court appearance.
A volunteer search for Graham was scheduled for Sunday but was cancelled by police after the remains were found. Thousands of volunteers had searched for Graham in the weeks since her disappearance.