Police: Man with dreads went into bar with missing UVa. student Hannah Graham

Posted at 6:05 PM, Sep 19, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-20 13:09:59-04

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo gave an impassioned speech about missing second-year student Hannah Graham at Friday's press conference.

“If you live in the city of Charlottesville, if you attend the University of Virginia, if that lady has touched your life in any way, you have the responsibility to help us find her," he said.

The chief said the press conference was a way to explain how they got to this place in the investigation, which has been ongoing since Sunday, Sept. 14, when friends and family realized no one had seen or heard from Hannah since early Saturday morning, Sept. 13.

A search warrant was executed Friday morning, for a vehicle belonging to a person in the 100 block of Hessian Hill Way. There was then sufficient evidence to execute a search warrant of the home.

"I am not at liberty to disclose any items that we may have taken from that car, any items that we may have taken from that residence," Longo said. Those items are still being evaluated, he added.

"We have reason to believe she inside a bar on the mall, with an individual who lived on Hessian Hill Way," Longo said.

He referenced video from Sal's Restaurant, that shows a dreadlocked man originally walking west bound on the mall. The video shows the dreadlocked man cross the mall, and start walking behind Hannah, eastbound.

The next video, taken from Tuel Jewelers at 1:08 a.m., shows the dreadlocked man walk with Hannah and his arm is around her waist, confirmed Chief Longo.

Longo said at the press conference that "from witness accounts they entered Tempo Restaurant on 5th street," off of the mall. The man purchased alcohol, police said.

Police stop short of calling him "suspect" or "person of interest"

"People saw Hannah and people saw him, and people saw them together," Longo said. "And it's entirely possible that Hannah Graham may have gotten into his vehicle," he said, "the vehicle we searched today."

Within 15 minutes they were gone from bar, Longo said, and he is pretty sure they left in the dreadlocked man's car.

The car was described as a 1998 burnt orange Chrysler Coupe, that was parked somewhere along 4th Street or somewhere along the mall.

"Somebody got out of it, somebody got back into it, and someone got back in it," he said. "If you remember seeing  someone get back in it, and you remember seeing it drive away, we need to hear from you."

Longo did not call the dreadlocked man a suspect, and stopped short of calling him a person of interest. He said "we are interested in him."

There is no probable cause for his arrest right now, Longo said. There was a "legally insufficient legal basis to detain him --not in the opinion of the Commonwealth Attorney -- so he is not in custody."

"But we know who he is,' Longo said. "I've described his car."

"There will come a time when I release his name," he said.

But right now, this man is not charged.

“Our goal is to make an arrest that will lead to a conviction," Chief Longo said.

“Today was productive, from an investigative standpoint,” he said.  “It advanced the investigation.”

"It has not got us to the point we need to be at, no."

Police call for more video, and volunteers join search

Police said they have received more than 400 tips since Sunday.

Longo again pleaded with all business owners and homeowners who have surveillance video to contact them, regardless if they think it is important.

The person police are interested in right now was described at Friday's press conference as a black, dreadlocked male, 6'2" and 32 years of age, weighing around 270 pounds.

The suspect described by police before, likely given by the male also seen in the Sal's Restaurant video -- who contacted police to say he saw Hannah -- was different. That man was described as a black male in his late 20s to early 30s, about 5’10” to 5’11”  tall and weighing between 250-285 pounds.

That original suspect was described as  wearing black jeans and a white t-shirt and having a closely shaved head as well as a goatee and a slight “beer belly.”

"They want their daughter back, they want to know what happened to their little girl, that's all, and that's what I want and that's what you want," Longo said.

He said over 1,500 people have signed up to search on Saturday, and possibly Sunday.

A $50,000 reward is now being offered in hopes of soliciting tips that could lead police to Graham. The City of Charlottesville and the University of Virginia are each offering $10,000. In addition, some local residents and businesses have contributed $30,000 to the reward.

If you have information that could help investigators, call the special Hannah Graham tip line at 434-295-3851.

All surveillance videos can be seen here.

All reports filed on this case can be found here.