Police: Missing UVa. student Hannah Graham seen running past gas station, entering Downtown Mall

Posted at 12:23 PM, Sep 17, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-17 18:02:58-04

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Police searching for missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham said a witness spotted the teenager enter the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville the morning she disappeared. The Downtown Mall is a pedestrian mall with stores and restaurants along either side.

Charlottesville Police have asked those businesses to preserve security camera video so detectives could determine if it contained clues into what happened to Graham.

Charlottesville Police Capt. Gary Pleasants said prior to the sighting on the Downtown Mall, a security camera at a nearby Shell gas station captured video of Graham running by the gas station.

He said the video revealed no one was chasing her at the time.  The video was recorded just before 1 a.m. Saturday.

Officers held a press conference Wednesday afternoon, to share and explain the videos. Ahead of sharing the videos, police said they believe Hannah lost her bearings. They said that friends weren't very concerned when Hannah was not seen Saturday, as she spent a lot of time in the library and was very studious.

But by Sunday, friends became worried and began to compare notes and contact family.

The updated timeline of the last hours anyone heard from Graham looks like this:

  • 11: 50 p.m. Friday -- Graham last seen by friends at Camden Plaza Apartments, in the 200 block of 14th Street NW.
  • 12:45 a.m. Saturday -- Graham seen on surveillance video outside of McGrady’s Pub on Grady Street.
  • 12:55 a.m. Saturday -- Graham seen on Shell station surveillance video on Preston Ave.
  • 1 a.m. Saturday -- Witness reports seeing Graham on Downtown Mall
  • 1:20 a.m. Saturday -- Graham sends a text to friends saying she was lost in the area around 14th and Wertland Streets.

Captain Pleasants said the camera outside McGrady’s Irish Pub showed Graham walking “in front of the building for several minutes, apparently it appears, maybe even talking to someone, and then walking away –leaving east bound on Grady at 12:46 a.m.”

That would be the opposite direction of her apartment, police said. Police said a blood hound picked up Graham’s scent right outside the Irish pub; but where it led them, they have not said.

Graham has been missing since Saturday morning. Unfortunately, police said, the family did not know she was missing until Sunday. Search teams spent Monday and Tuesday looking for the 18-year-old student. The search resumed on Wednesday.

"Those of us who know and love Hannah know that she would not disappear without contacting family or friends," the Graham family said in a statement released Tuesday. "We express our sincere gratitude to law enforcement and everyone who is involved in the search for Hannah. We also thank the University for the full attention they are devoting to the situation."

Graham is from Northern Virginia, and it is reported that she graduated from West Potomac High School in Fairfax County, in 2013.