Remains belong to missing Va. student
Richmond, Va. – — Remains found nearly a week ago in a rural area of Virginia are those of a missing university student, authorities said Friday, as they turned their attention to filing possible additional charges against the suspect accused of abducting her.
University of Virginia sophomore Hannah Graham, 18, disappeared Sept. 13 after a night out with friends. The remains were found Oct. 18 about 12 miles from the Charlottesville campus, in a heavily wooded area of Albemarle County that is home to rolling hills and horse farms.
The state Medical Examiner’s office confirmed that the remains were Graham’s, the Albermarle County Police Department said in a statement Friday.
The man Graham was last seen with, 32-year-old Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr., has been charged with abduction with intent to defile Graham.
Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney Denise Lunsford said in a statement that the focus of the investigation now is to determine “what charges will be brought and the appropriate time to make those charges.”
Matthew’s attorney, Jim Camblos, said in a voicemail greeting that he is not answering questions about the case.
Graham’s remains were discovered roughly 6 miles from where the body of 20-year-old Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington was found after she vanished in 2009. Police have said forensic evidence connects Matthew to Harrington’s killing, which in turn is linked by DNA to a 2005 sexual assault in northern Virginia. Matthew has been charged in the 2005 case.
“When we started this journey together we all hoped for a happier ending,” Graham’s parents, John and Sue Graham, said in a statement provided by the police department.
“Sadly that was not to be. … We are devastated by the loss of our beautiful daughter. … Although we have lost our precious Hannah, the light she radiated can never be extinguished.”
Graham’s parents thanked those involved with the investigation and search efforts — singling out Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo for his “tenacity and determination” — as well as those who have sent messages of support. They said they don’t intend to make further statements or comment on the ongoing criminal investigation.
Longo, who became the public face of the investigation through his emotional pleas for the community’s help in finding Graham, did not respond to a telephone call seeking comment.
Graham’s disappearance prompted many University of Virginia students to begin walking in pairs or groups at night.
Also, the university expanded a ride service for its students to provide additional safety.
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