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Hannah Graham’s mother: Someone can ‘end this nightmare’

Posted at 12:34 PM, Oct 04, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-05 12:07:44-04

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- The parents of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham released an emotional video statement on Saturday pleading for help bringing their missing daughter home.

The 18-year-old was last seen spotted exactly three weeks ago in the early hours of Saturday, Sept 13 on Charlottesville's Downtown Mall.

"Somebody listening me today either knows where Hannah is or knows someone who has that information," Sue Graham said fighting back tears. "We appeal to you to come forward and tell us where Hannah can be found."

John Graham, who first spoke publicly almost two weeks ago, is beside his wife's side as she delivers a powerful statement.

"John has already said that this is every parent’s worst nightmare. That is true. But it is also nightmare for  our son, James, for Hannah’s grandparents, and other members of our family as well for Hannah’s many friends here in Charlottesville and beyond," Sue Graham said.

Graham also said that despite an individual has been charged in Hannah's abduction, and the massive search efforts, no trace of Hannah has been found.

"Help end this nightmare for all of us. Please help us to bring Hannah home,” Sue Graham begs as her husband takes his wife in his arms.

Hanna Graham parents

The couple again thanked the entire community as well as those who are working so hard to find their daughter.

"We would like to again express our enormous gratitude to all those who have been involved in the search for Hannah," Sue Graham said. "The police, the professional search teams, the people staffing the telephone tip line, UVa. students, our friends, neighbors and work colleagues -- as well as the citizens of Charlottesville and the surrounding area.

On Saturday, crews continued their search for any trace of Graham. A special aircraft was used Saturday that has a high -resolution camera that flies about a 100 square kilometer grid west side of the Charlottesville City area and extended north to west.

Crews also combed through wooded areas and talked to property owners.

"You all are trying so hard," said Marnie Johnson, whose family owns land in the Keswick area. "I can't imagine trying to comb an area this size."

Graham's parents also thanked Charlottesville, the university and public, who have contributed to the reward fund, which has grown to $100,000 for information leading to Hannah.

“We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of you all,” Sue Graham said fighting back tears.

Since Graham vanished, police have received over 3,500 tips on what might have happened that night.

While police have a suspect in custody in connection to Hannah's disappearance, they have not been able to locate Hannah.

Graham was last seen in Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall on Sept. 13. Investigators believe suspect Jesse Matthew, 32, was the last person with her. He is charged with abduction with the intent to defile.

Anyone with information about Graham's whereabouts is asked to call a special tip line at 434-295-3851. All surveillance videos can be seen here. All reports filed on this case can be found here.

The Search for Hannah Continues

As Virginia State Police resumed the search for missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham Friday, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management had a special message for people headed into the weekend.

"I know there is a lot of hiking and outdoors activity with hunters and so forth," VDEM search and rescue coordinator Mark Eggeman said. "We ask them to look at those trails. As they go out, keep their eyes open.  Tell us if you see something out of the ordinary."

A 40-person team searched the woods of Albemarle County on Friday for Hannah. The search effort would ramp up over the weekend, Eggeman said. In addition to more searchers on the ground, VDEM expected to use he canines and all-terrain vehicles.

"We're going to focus on those area towards the north where we continue to follow-up on investigative leads," he said. "We're going to try and cover an eight-mile radius."

Cloud cover prevented an air search for Hannah on Friday.

Where is Hannah Graham?

It was late on a Friday night and a freckled, blue-eyed University of Virginia student named Hannah Graham was partying in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia.

Graham, described as an accomplished athlete and straight-A student, was seen various times before her disappearance in the early hours of September 13.

She was at a party and later at an apartment complex, just blocks away.  A surveillance camera caught her outside a pub, where she was turned away.

She was next seen running past a gas station, and witness accounts have her walking onto the Downtown Mall, a pedestrian thoroughfare lined with restaurants and shops. There were a few people out walking around, and surveillance cameras help capture the track Graham took.

A surveillance camera at an Italian cafe captured her walking eastbound along the mall about 1:06 a.m. A camera at a jewelry store recorded her passing two minutes later.

That camera footage appears to show her walking with Matthew, which a witness confirmed, saying Graham was approached by a man who put his arm around her.

Matthew was originally spotted on a camera mounted at the Italian café, heading the opposite way  Graham was. The video shows him cross over and fall into step behind the 18-year-old.

Police said that at 1:20 a.m., she texted her friends to say she was lost and trying to find a party.

However, she told her friends, according to police, that she was lost at a location near her apartment – which was 1.5 miles from where she was spotted on camera ten minutes before the text.

One witness told police she and a man were seen having drinks at a bar between 1:30 and 2 a.m.

But the owner of the restaurant released a contradictory statement, saying that Matthew had been inside the bar, but Graham had not.

She may have been under the influence of alcohol, Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo said, and may have been vulnerable or unable to defend herself.

Jesse Matthew

DNA links Matthew to Morgan Harrington Case

Sources close to the investigation confirmed to CBS 6 reporter Laura French that Matthew has been forensically linked to the 2009 disappearance of 20-year-old Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington,

Those sources indicated that forensic evidence belonging to Graham suspect Jesse Matthew Jr., matched forensic evidence collected during the Harrington investigation.

The sources would not indicate what Matthew may or may not have done with Harrington, however the sources indicated that the forensic evidence match showed Harrington had some sort of contact with Matthew the night she disappeared outside John Paul Jones arena on October 17, 2009. Her remains were found in January 2010 on an Albemarle County farm.

Matthew also was questioned in connection with an alleged sexual assault nearly 12 years ago, authorities said.

But no charges were filed because the woman didn’t want to go forward with the case and investigators determined there wasn’t enough evidence to arrest Matthew, said Michael Doucette, the commonwealth’s attorney for Lynchburg, Virginia.

According to a statement from Lynchburg police, the woman reported she was raped on the campus of Liberty University on October 17, 2002.

Matthew told authorities that the woman consented, Doucette said, adding that there were no witnesses.

Matthew’s father spoke publicly, for the first time, to CBS 6. He said his son would not have harmed Graham.

“For a big man, he’s as gentle as they come,” Jesse Matthew Sr. said. “The only thing I could see, him, maybe trying to give the girl a ride or help her out.

“To kill or hurt somebody, that’s not my son.”

Last week Matthew appeared before Galveston County Judge Mark Henry on a charge of giving false information to a Texas police officer.

Matthew’s Virginia-based lawyer had little to say about his client when approached this week outside his Charlottesville office.

“I am Mr. Matthew’s attorney,” James Camblos said. “I was hired on Saturday. That’s the only thing that I’m going to confirm at this point. The family and I — nobody is making any statements at this point in time. We might later on, but right now we are not.”

Matthew willingly went to a police station last weekend, along with several family members, walking through the front door and asking for a lawyer, Longo said. There was no warrant for his arrest at that time.

Matthew and the lawyer spoke and then left, the police chief said, giving detectives no clearer picture of what may have happened the day Graham disappeared. Because he has retained counsel, police cannot question him.

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