Jesse Matthew has been sent to Virginia
Arrest of suspect in the Hannah Graham case leaves one painful question: Where is she?
University of Virginia student was last seen on September 13
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, according to a timeline compiled by CNN affiliate WVIR.
She was at a party and later at an apartment complex blocks away. A surveillance camera caught her outside a pub, where she was turned away. She was seen running past a gas station at one point and later spotted at a restaurant. At another point, she had drinks with a man at a bar.
Jesse Matthew, the man named as a suspect in her disappearance, was taken into custody this week in Texas, 1,300 miles away from the town where Graham was last seen. On Friday, Matthew, who had waived extradition, was transported to Virginia and booked into jail, authorities said.
Almost two weeks after her disappearance, people keep asking: Where is Hannah Graham?
Last weekend, more than 1,200 volunteers and Virginia Department of Emergency Management officials searched for clues that would lead them to Graham, CNN affiliate WTVR reported.
On Saturday, the search for Graham extended to rural areas outside Charlottesville, spanning more than 740 square miles in Albemarle County.
Police also asked owners of large parcels of property in surrounding counties to search their land.
The search may have to be extended to the 1,300 miles between the place where Graham was last seen and Texas, where Matthew was arrested.
“We’re going to do whatever we can to assist Virginia to locate that young lady,” Galveston County Sheriff Henry Trochesset told reporters Thursday, adding that deputies will start searching in the area where Matthew was arrested and branch out.
Authorities found Matthew on a Galveston County beach. Deputies were tipped off to his whereabouts when they got a call about a suspicious person camping on the beach. One responded and ran the license plate of that person’s vehicle. It came back as wanted, CNN affiliate KPRC reported.
The former Liberty University student and football player did not resist arrest, Trochesset told reporters. The sheriff added that investigators from Virginia were examining a car and a tent found at Matthew’s campsite.
“There’s a long road ahead of us, and that long road includes finding Hannah Graham,” Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo said.
Authorities are offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Graham.
Her parents attended a candlelight vigil Thursday night organized by University of Virginia students. The couple said it was “extremely moving.”
“We were comforted by the evident high esteem in which our cherished daughter is held by her many friends at the University of Virginia and beyond,” John and Sue Graham said in a statement. “We continue to be optimistic that Hannah will soon be returned safely to us.”
Holding a stuffed bunny named BB, his daughter’s favorite plush toy and “guardian angel,” John Graham last weekend pleaded for someone to come forward with information on his daughter, who he said loved helping people.
The couple hasn’t given up hope.
“They are hurt,” Longo said. “They are concerned. They are frustrated. But not for one second have I discerned that they have ever lost hope they will find their daughter.”
What will happen to Matthew?
Matthew is accused of abduction with the intent to defile in the Graham case.
Matthew’s father spoke publicly for the first time Thursday. He said his son would not have harmed Graham.
“For a big man, he’s as gentle as they come,” Jesse Matthew Sr. told CNN affiliate WTVR. “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.”
Matthew also was questioned in connection with an alleged sexual assault nearly 12 years ago, authorities said Thursday.
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 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.
Authorities searched Matthew’s apartment and car but have declined to say what – if anything – was found.
Where was Graham last seen?
On the evening of September 12, she was seen at a party before friends saw her at an apartment complex a couple of blocks away. That was shortly before midnight, according to WVIR.
About 12:45 a.m. on September 13, a surveillance camera caught her outside a pub, about three-quarters of a mile from the apartment complex. A doorman turned her away at the pub, Longo said.
Ten minutes later, she was seen running past a gas station – no one appeared to be pursuing her – and witnesses said they saw her five minutes later roughly four blocks from the gas station, WVIR reported. She was at a restaurant in an area known as Downtown Mall, witnesses said.
A surveillance camera at an Italian cafe captured her walking along the mall about 1:06 a.m. A camera at a jewelry store recorded her passing two minutes later, WVIR reported.
At 1:20 a.m., she texted her friends to say she was lost and trying to find a party, WVIR reported. She and a man were seen having drinks at a bar between 1:30 and 2 a.m., WVIR reports.
She may have been under the influence of alcohol, Longo said, and may have been vulnerable or unable to defend herself.
Did Matthew fraternize with Graham at a Charlottesville restaurant?
Brice Cunningham, owner of Tempo Restaurant and Wine Bar in Charlottesville, told CNN that he saw Matthew at his restaurant on the night of Graham’s disappearance.
“I did not see her,” he said. “That’s one of the most distressing matters for me.”
Authorities said at least one person saw Graham at the restaurant that night.
Cunningham recalled seeing Matthew alone. He said Matthew came to Tempo twice that night.
“He was having a good time,” Cunningham said. “He went dancing. I thought he was just a little bit excited and happy to be there.”
A Tempo employee at the door, however, saw Graham outside the restaurant, Cunningham said.
“Yes, walking away with him,” Cunningham said of Matthew. “It would appear that they knew each other.”
Longo said what happened over the next 40 or so hours until Graham was reported missing is crucial.
“There is this block of time,” he said. “This very big, large, significant block of time between the time we know Hannah Graham disappeared and the time that disappearance was reported to us. We need to shrink that gap.”
Authorities say they think people who know Matthew may be helpful in the search for Graham.
“If you know Jesse, and many people do because Jesse grew up here,” Longo said. “He went to school here. He has family here. He went to church here. He worked here. Lots of people know Jesse.”