Tags: hannah graham | body | found | identified | forensics

Hannah Graham: Body Found Being Identified by Forensics

By    |   Monday, 20 Oct 2014 05:54 AM

Authorities must conduct forensic tests to determine if the human remains found Saturday at an abandoned rural property are University of Virginia student Hannah Graham who disappeared five weeks ago, Charlottesville's police chief said, and that could take several days.

Reuters reported Police Chief Timothy Longo as saying at a news conference that authorities quickly notified the girl's parents of the grim discovery.

Jesse Matthew Jr, 32, of Charlottesville, who authorities say was the last person seen with Graham, has been charged in her disappearance. Graham, an 18-year-old sophomore, was last seen on Sept. 13 in Charlottesville.

The human remains were found by a Chesterfield County Sheriff's Office team combing through an abandoned property in a rural area of southern Albemarle County.

“These are human remains and forensic tests need to be conducted to determine the identification of those remains, but nonetheless we wanted to be quick and timely to share that information with the Graham family,” Longo told reporters in Charlottesville.

"Thousands of hours have been spent by literally hundreds of law enforcement and civilian volunteers in an effort to find Hannah. We think perhaps today proved their worth," Longo said.

Matthew was arrested on Sept. 24 in a tent pitched on a beach outside of Galveston, Texas, about 1,100 miles away from the University of Virginia campus. The arrest came a day after a warrant was issued accusing him in connection with Graham's disappearance. He has been extradited back to Virginia to face charges of abduction and intent to defile.

Police have also said forensic evidence links Matthew to the disappearance of female Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington, whose body was found in 2010.

Matthew's attorney could not be reached for comment.

Longo said police may not have further information to share on the case for a number of days.

Reuters reported that Albemarle County Police Chief Steve Sellers asked members of the public to come forward if they are connected to the area where the remains were found and might have seen Matthew there after Graham went missing.

The Associated Press reported that police blocked off roads, sifted through leaves and scoured the rural area where they found remains in a heavily wooded area that is home to horse farms, about 12 miles from campus.

The remains were discovered roughly 6 miles from where the body of 20-year-old Harrington was found after she vanished. 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 hasn't been charged in those cases.

The 18-year-old Graham disappeared after a night out with friends. She had met friends at a restaurant for dinner before stopping by two off-campus parties. She left the second party alone and eventually texted a friend saying she was lost, authorities said.

In surveillance video, she can be seen walking unsteadily and even running at times, past a pub and a service station and then onto a seven-block strip of bars, restaurants and shops. On Sunday, the area was buzzing with people having brunch at outdoor cafes on a brisk, sunny day. Graham's disappearance and the discovery of human remains was a frequent topic of conversation.

"Everybody was rattled. Everybody knew it was coming, but you still hope for the best. As much as you can prepare for it, you can never prepare for it," said Claire Meyers, a University of Virginia nursing student who has friends who knew Graham and Matthew.

Matthew was an operating room technician at the university's hospital, where Meyers works as a patient care assistant.

Albemarle County resident Bill Gnas, a retiree who lives a few miles from where the remains were found, said he suspected the worst.

"Truly, I was saddened by it. After three or four days you had to anticipate it was going to be another Harrington event where they were going to find the body, and the only thing you could hope for at that point was that there be some closure for the parents that it was in fact discovered," he said.

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Authorities must conduct forensic tests to determine if the human remains found Saturday at an abandoned rural property are University of Virginia student Hannah Graham who disappeared five weeks ago, Charlottesville's police chief said, and that could take several days.
hannah graham, body, found, identified, forensics
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2014-54-20
Monday, 20 Oct 2014 05:54 AM
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