Hannah Graham Update: Police Get ‘Major Break,’ Execute Search Warrants

Hannah Graham has been missing for six days. In the early morning hours of September 13, the University of Virginia student vanished without a trace. Authorities in Charlottesville, Virginia, are now confident that they have gotten a “major break” in her disappearance.

Through a series of witness interviews and surveillance footage, authorities confirmed Hannah left her apartment at approximately 9:30 p.m. Friday evening. She then had dinner and attended a party with friends.

Just after midnight, Hannah Graham left the party to walk home — alone. As seen in the surveillance footage, the 18-year-old passed by McGrady’s Irish Pub at approximately 12:46 a.m. on Saturday. Ten minutes later, she ran past a Shell gas station.

Shortly after 1:00 a.m., Hannah was spotted outside the downtown Charlottesville strip mall. Authorities were concerned, as the teen was being followed by an unidentified man.

Following the release of the video, the man came forward to provide a statement to police. He said he was following Hannah Graham because she appeared to be in distress. However, she was eventually approached by another man. He said he eventually left, as it appeared the other man “was either known to Ms. Graham or was trying to help her.”

At approximately 1:20 a.m. the teen exchanged text messages with a friend. Although she did not seem to be in danger, the teen stated that she was lost. Hannah Graham was never seen or heard from again.

Early in the investigation, authorities had no reason to suspect foul play. However, the surveillance footage and witness testimony eventually led detectives to identify a “person of interest.” As reported by the Washington Post, the person of interest does not match the description of the man who approached Hannah at the mall.

Although Hannah Graham clearly walked to the mall, authorities “believe she could have left the mall in a vehicle.”

Police Chief Timothy Longo confirmed “a series of tips” led authorities to a vehicle, which was parked at the Hessian Hills apartment complex. Evidence found inside the vehicle prompted a search of the owner’s apartment.

Chief Longo underlined the fact that Hannah is still missing. Furthermore, the person of interest has not been arrested or charged in her disappearance.

As reported by WHSV News, the Charlottesville-Albemarle County Fire & Rescue team is currently searching the Rivanna River. It is unclear whether evidence found inside the car and apartment prompted the search.

The Charlottesville Police Department has scheduled a press conference at 5:00 p.m. to discuss Hannah Graham’s disappearance.

UPDATE:

During a press conference, Chief Longo explained that the person of interest is in fact the same man who approached Hannah at the mall — and put his arm around her.

Although the person was not named, he is described as a 32-year-old black male. The person of interest is over six feet tall and weighs approximately 240 pounds. He has a “dreadlock” hairstyle and was wearing a white shirt on Friday night/Saturday morning.

Authorities believe Hannah Graham left the mall with the suspect and traveled to the Tempo Bar & Restaurant between 1:00 a.m. and 2:00 a.m. Anyone who saw Hannah with the suspect, or inside his vehicle, is urged to contact authorities immediately. The vehicle is described as a burnt orange 1998 Chrysler coupe.

Chief Longo also stated that the suspect’s vehicle was, in fact, seized, and his apartment was searched. Although the man is considered a suspect, Longo said his supervisor and the commonwealth attorney agree — there is not enough evidence for an arrest. Longo also suggested Hannah Graham’s personal belongings were found inside the vehicle. However, he did not go into detail.