Authorities searching for Hannah Graham found human remains Saturday on an abandoned property within 10 miles of where the University of Virginia student was last seen over a month ago, police said.
Chesterfield County Sherriff’s Department officials found the remains around noon near Old Lynchburg Road in Albermarle County, said Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo.
While Longo notified Graham’s parents of the discovery, the identity of the remains must be confirmed by forensic testing.
“Right now we have the discovery of human remains and a great deal of work ahead of us,” said Col. Steve Sellers, Albermarle County police chief. “We cannot and will not jump to any conclusions regarding today’s discovery.” Sellers noted that the discovery of human remains have opened up a new and ongoing death investigation.
Graham was last seen on surveillance footage in Charlottesville’s downtown mall area. The film shows Graham leaving a bar around 2 a.m. on Sept. 13, and a man, who has been identified as Jesse Matthew, 32, appearing to follow her.
Matthew was arrested 11 days later on a beach in Galveston, Texas. He was taken into custody on charges of abduction with intent to defile, and is the only person who has been detained in relation to Graham’s disappearance.
Matthew’s attorney, James Camblos, told NBC News that he and Matthews were “waiting to see the results of the medical examiner’s autopsy,” and offered no further comment.
More than 1,200 volunteers joined the official search for Graham in the Charlottesville area where she disappeared. Saturday, the Facebook page “Help Find Hannah Graham” was flooded with comments from both friends and strangers after the discovery.
Matthew’s next court appearance related to Graham’s disappearance is scheduled for Dec. 4. He has also been connected by forensic evidence to the disappearance of Morgan Harrington, a 20-year-old Virginia Tech student who went missing outside of Charlottesville in October 2009. Harrington was found dead on a nearby farm three months later, and no arrests have been made in relation to her case.
Contact Editor-in-Chief Clay Helms at firstname.lastname@example.org