Police explain next steps in search for UVa. student Hannah Graham, missing 12 days

Posted at 3:21 PM, Sep 25, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-25 20:32:16-04

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo urged residents to continue searching for missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham during a news conference Thursday afternoon.

Longo acknowledged there is “a lot is going on in this investigation” since Jesse Matthew, the primary suspect in Graham's disappearance, was arrested camping on a beach in Galveston, Texas Wednesday afternoon.

“You know the trial process preparation will begin as we begin to move down this very long road, as I said last night,” Longo said.

Even thought Matthew has been arrested, the chief reiterated that Graham remains missing and the desperate search to find her continues.

"This bright, really intelligent, athletic, friendly, beautiful 18-year-old college student … is still missing. We have no idea exactly where she is, despite our best efforts,” Longo said.

Police are still questioning witnesses and gathering additional surveillance video from around the city.

The chief said Virginia Department of Emergency Management crews have covered most of the city as well as Carter’s Mountain. Additionally, officials will ask property owners for their permission to search larger parcels of land.

Longo also asked property owners to check their land for anything suspicion. He asked owners that have checked their land to call the Hannah Graham tip line at 434-295-3851 or email to let investigators cross those properties off the list.

“If you have seen tire tracks...that seem suspect, again, contact us,” Longo said. “We will make the assessment of what is relevant.”

The chief also asked for the help of Charlottesville-area realtors.

“If you are a realtor who serves the greater Charlottesville area, we are asking you to go to vacant properties to follow the same directives that we have asked property owners.”

Longo also said that if anyone stumbles upon evidence, like Graham's missing iPhone 5S with a pink case, they should not touch it, but call police immediately.

"Don’t touch items you find, please don’t disturb them in any way," he said.

Police are also focusing on the hours between early Saturday morning when Graham vanished and she was reported missing Sunday afternoon.

“We need to shrink the gap,” Longo said, referencing the large block of time where there is no known information.

The chief asked residents to come forward with any information that can help them piece together things that happened in that unaccounted block of time.

Longo pointed out that Matthew grew up in the area and that someone had told them that he liked to fish.

Accordingly, now investigators want someone to tell them where he liked to fish so they can check those areas.

Primary suspect in Graham disappearance arrested 

Jesse Matthew, a suspect in the disappearance of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham, will be returned to Virginia after waiving extradition from Texas.

Matthew was in a Texas court twice Thursday. The second time, Judge Michelle Slaughter in Galveston asked whether he wanted to fight extradition or would agree to be sent to Charlottesville, where he has been sought on suspicion of abduction with the intent to defile.

Matthew agreed to the extradition.

Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo told reporters that he thought Matthew would be moved Friday.

Earlier, Matthew appeared before Galveston County Judge Mark Henry on a charge of giving false information to a Texas peace officer.

Authorities found Matthew on a Galveston County beach some 1,300 miles from where he's wanted in the disappearance.

Deputies were tipped off to Matthew's whereabouts when they got a call about a suspicious person camping on the beach. One responded and ran the license plate of that person's vehicle. It came back as wanted.

At the press conference Thursday, multiple reporters pushed Chief Longo concerning the relation of evidence in the Graham case to the Morgan Harrington case.

"Remain focused on Hannah until such time we can go further than that,” replied Longo, each time. He has indicated at multiple press events that there will be a "much longer road ahead."

Hannah's disappearance still boggles community

New missing person poster released reflects increased reward.

On the evening of September 12, she was seen at a party before friends saw her at an apartment complex a couple of blocks away from the party. That was shortly before midnight.

About 12:45 a.m. on September 13, a surveillance camera caught Graham outside of a pub, about three-quarters of a mile from the apartment complex. A doorman turned her away at the pub, Longo said Sunday.

Ten minutes later, she is seen running past a gas station — no one appears to be pursuing her — and witnesses say they saw her five minutes later roughly four blocks from the gas station.

The surveillance camera at an Italian cafe captured her walking along the pedestrian outdoor mall in downtown Charlottesville, about 1:06 a.m. The camera at a jewelry store recorded her passing two minutes later, with Matthew walking beside her, police said.

At 1:20 a.m. she texted her friends to say she was lost and trying to find a party. She was seen with a man said to be Matthew, having drinks at a bar between 1:30 and 2 a.m..

Police believe she may have been under the influence of alcohol, Longo said, and may have been vulnerable or unable to defend herself.

On how many warrants was Matthew a wanted man? 

Police officially released Matthew's name on Sunday, Sept. 21, saying they believe he was having drinks with Graham.

“I believe Jesse Matthew was the last person she was seen with before she vanished off the face of the Earth,” the police chief said Sunday. “We want to talk to him.”

Graham and Matthew were seen leaving the bar together, and Matthew drove away in his Chrysler coupe that was parked near the bar, and police said they have “every reason to believe” Graham was in the car, too.

Matthew came into police headquarters on Saturday, Sept. 20, and asked to speak with a lawyer.

He hired James Camblos, the attorney said. But then Matthew left without speaking to police, or his lawyer. Police who were overtly following Matthew said he took off at such high speeds they could not safely pursue. At that point police issued two misdemeanor warrants for speeding.

Shortly thereafter he was named a person of interest. Then two days later, as forensic evidence came back to police, a felony arrest warrant was issued. Matthew was charged for abduction with intent to defile.

READ NOW: Hannah Graham’s parents say she left her ‘guardian angel’ at home before returning to UVa.

What's next? 

Hannah Graham's location is still unknown, and she's been missing since Sept. 13.

Police have received 1,500 tips so far in the case. Last weekend, more than 1,200 volunteers and Virginia Department of Emergency Management officials spent the weekend searching for clues that would lead them to Graham

As time passes, the search area grows, investigators say.

As word spread that Matthew had been arrested, neighbors said they hoped police could now just focus on finding Hannah, and hopefully safe.

The city of Charlottesville, the University of Virginia and the local community have contributed $100,000 to a reward for “information leading to the cause” of Graham’s disappearance. Anyone with info is asked to call the tipline at 434-295-3851 or email

Longo said that anyone wishing to have a hard copy of the Hannah Graham missing person poster should contact Charlottesville Police.

Hannah's parents, he said,  "are strong people and they are still hopeful.”

“They are very appreciative of your being here everyday and telling their daughter’s story," he added.

"There may be a time when they come back before you.”

All surveillance videos can be seen here. All reports filed on this case can be found here.

Depend on CBS 6 News and for the latest updates on this important story.