Report: ‘Person of interest’ admits to buying missing UVa. student Hannah Graham a drink

Posted at 2:56 PM, Sep 20, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-20 23:31:24-04

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Police identified a person of interest in the disappearance of missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham. Charlottesville Police Capt. Gary Pleasants confirmed police searched the car and apartment of a man named Jesse Matthew on Friday.

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

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

"People saw Hannah and people saw him, and people saw them together. And it’s entirely possible that Hannah Graham may have gotten into his vehicle," Chief Longo said.

A British news website reported Matthew has told his family he bought the UVa. student a drink, but did not drive off with her.

"He said he went his way and she went hers," Matthew's grandmother told the Daily Mail . "He told his mother he bought her some drinks. He said she did not get into his car. The girl went her way and he went his."

On Saturday, more than 1,000 volunteers searched for Graham in Charlottesville. The massive search started in the morning and was expected to continue until the sun set Saturday evening. Graham was last seen one week ago.

Among the volunteers looking for Graham is the family of Alexis Murphy. Murphy was the high school student from nearby Nelson County who disappeared last year. A man was later arrested and convicted for her abduction and murder, even though her body was never found.

"We wanted the whole world to search for Lexi," Alexis' great-aunt Trina Murphy said when asked why the Murphy family volunteered for the search. "This has been a tough week for our family too."

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.

This is a developing story.