Police Release Person of Interest Description in Hannah Graham Case

Posted: Updated: Sep 18, 2014 06:47 PM
Hannah Graham Hannah Graham

Thursday, police are back out looking for missing University of Virginia second-year student Hannah Graham. Investigators hope new surveillance video will them help figure out what happened to her.

Police are now looking for a person of interest, described as a black male in his late 20s or early 30s, with a close-shaved head, a goatee, and a slight "beer belly." The witness who saw him says he was about 5'10" or 5'11" and between 250 and 285 pounds, wearing black jeans and a white T-shirt.

Graham, 18, was reported missing on Sunday when friends and family realized they hadn't seen or heard from her since late Friday/early Saturday morning. Anyone with information about her whereabouts or the person of interest in the case can call the tip line at 434-295-3851. A reward totaling $50,000 is being offered for information about the cause of her disappearance.

Thursday, police are back on Charlottesville's downtown mall in the search for Graham. Police canvassed the downtown Charlottesville area looking for more surveillance videos,  trying to corroborate the story that Graham was last seen with the man who is now a person of interest. Police are currently waiting for banks to get surveillance video to them.

"We are still checking with businesses in and around the downtown area to see if there is any more video of Friday night that may show Hannah's movements," said Captain Gary Pleasants with the Charlottesville Police Department.

Police released two surveillance videos of Graham Wednesday night. One is from Sal's Caffe Italia at 1:06 a.m. Saturday. The video shows an unidentified white male following Graham. The other surveillance video is from Tuel Jewelers at 1:08 a.m. Saturday. That video shows Graham walking with the same man still behind her.

Investigators have interviewed that man. He says he was trying to help Graham, but another man stepped in – the unidentified black male for whom police are now searching.

"Hopefully we come up with other leads just like the last two days have led to other videos and other movements," said Pleasants.

Police met Thursday morning to talk about new search locations. The search moved east toward the Rivanna River. Search crews moved north on East High Street Thursday, through the wooded area along the Rivanna River. Searchers looked for any sign of Graham - like shoes, a driver's license, or a phone - but so far, nothing has been recovered.

Police say they have not recovered Graham's cellphone but believe she had it with her when seen in surveillance videos. Police also say her cellphone never pinged downtown. It only pinged in the Wertland/14th/15th street area.

“In the urban areas, it is so densely populated there are small yards you know little alley ways. As we get out toward the suburban area, you have larger little patches of woods between the neighborhoods. There is more open areas there is more green spaces creeks like that,” said Mark Eggeman, VA search and rescue.

The area is so tough to cover that search teams need help from the community. Charlottesville police, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, and other agencies are coordinating a community search this coming Saturday, September 20 and Sunday, September 21. Participants, who must meet certain criteria, must sign up online by 5 p.m. Friday. A briefing for all volunteers will take place Friday at 7 p.m. at John Paul Jones Arena. 

A candlelight vigil will be held for Graham at the UVA Amphitheater at 9 p.m Thursday. 

Graham is described as approximately 5'11" tall with a skinny build, with blue eyes, light brown hair and freckles. She was last seen wearing a black crop top with mesh cutouts. Graham is a second-year student at UVA who graduated from West Potomac High School last year. She's originally from the U.K., but her parents live in Alexandria in Fairfax County.

Police still want to hear anyone who may have seen Graham or from businesses who might have surveillance video. They urge anyone with information to call the tip line at 434-295-3851.

City of Charlottesville Police Department Press Release

The Charlottesville Police Department has released the description of a man a witness identified as having contact with Hannah Elizabeth Graham the night she disappeared. This person is described as a black male, 5'10”-5'11”, 250-285 pounds, close shaved head, goatee, with a slight ‘beer belly'. He is described as being in his late 20's-early 30's and wearing black jeans and a white t-shirt.

He was seen with Ms. Graham in the 3-500 blocks of E. Main St. on the Downtown Mall in the City of Charlottesville around 1-1:15 am on September 13th (Friday night/Saturday morning). He is a person of interest and if anyone has any information on him or saw him this night, please call the tip line. The number is: (434) 295-3851.

City of Charlottesville Police Department Press Release

As with some past missing person's cases, the City of Charlottesville is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the cause of the disappearance of 18 year-old University of Virginia student Hannah Elizabeth Graham.

In addition to this money from the City of Charlottesville, the University of Virginia is also offering $10,000 and some local individuals and businesses have come forward wishing to contribute funds to a reward. The total reward being offered at this time, with all contributions, is $50,000.

Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Hannah Graham should call the special tip line which is (434) 295-3851.

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