Police Identify Person of Interest in Hannah Graham Case

Posted: Updated:

Police have identified a person of interest in the disappearance of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham. They executed two search warrants, for his car and his apartment, at a complex in Albemarle County Friday morning.

UVA second-year student Hannah Graham, 18, has been missing since the early morning hours of Saturday, Sept. 13. She is described as a white female, approximately 5'11" tall with a skinny build. She has blue eyes, light brown hair and freckles. She was last seen wearing a black crop top with mesh cutouts.

Police executed two search warrants Friday morning, one for a car, a burnt-orange 1998 Chrysler Coupe, and another for an apartment in the 100 block of Hessian Hills Way, located off Georgetown Road in Albemarle County. The man who lives there and owns the car is a person of interest in the case. Police have spoken to him but he's not in custody and has not been charged with a crime. He's described as a 6'2", 32-year-old black male with dreadlocks, weighing about 270 pounds. In a press conference Friday, police wouldn't describe his criminal history but said he "has had police contact."

The person of interest was seen on surveillance video on the downtown mall walking west as Graham walked east. He then crossed the mall and followed her. That's the last time Graham was caught on video. The man was later spotted with his arm around Graham. Police said in a press conference Friday afternoon that the man went to Tempo, a restaurant on Fifth Street Southeast on the mall, with Graham between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. Saturday and left with her. They say they have "every reason to believe" she got in his car.

His car was taken from the apartment complex Friday for processing. Police also searched his apartment, though they haven't described any items taken as evidence. The warrants have already been placed under a court seal. Police set up a mobile command post outside the apartment and looked for surveillance video from businesses around the location of Hessian Hills.

Police are asking anyone who saw Graham with the person of interest, who was wearing all white, early Saturday morning on the downtown mall, as well as anyone who saw his Chrysler, to call the tip line: 434-295-3851.

During Friday's press conference, Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo said the search is focusing on the area surrounding the downtown mall, east to the Albemarle County line and west up Barracks Road, around the area of Hessian Hills. They say they recovered new video to analyze Friday, but so far the most recent video of Graham is still from the surveillance camera in Tuel Jewelers on the downtown mall.

Crews searching for any trace of Graham were out again Friday, combing the Rivanna River and surrounding woods. The Charlottesville-Albemarle Rescue Squad put in boats and kayaks at Darden Towe Park. Volunteers on foot combed the river's banks and wooded areas for any clues. All search crews were sent out from the new command center at John Paul Jones Arena.

Another search, organized by the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, will take place Saturday and Sunday, September 20 and 21.