Crews Continue to Search Albemarle County for Hannah Graham
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) -
Monday marks day 23 of the search for missing University of Virginia second-year student Hannah Graham, and trained searchers are showing no signs of slowing down their efforts as they continue into this week.
Graham was last seen on the Charlottesville downtown mall on September 13. Jesse Matthew, the man shown on surveillance video with Graham the night she disappeared, has been charged with abduction with intent to defile in connection with the case.
Virginia Department of Emergency Management coordinators are determined to have more than 70 percent of Albemarle County searched by the end of this week. Searchers' goal this week is to comb every square inch of woods and neighborhoods in an eight-mile radius around Charlottesville.
Investigators say at the center of that eight-mile radius is the last place Graham was seen on surveillance video and by eyewitnesses on September 13 – the downtown mall.
More than 2,400 search hours went into the effort this weekend and VDEM is hopeful they'll add even more to that total throughout week.
They say the number one thing that's going to help them is tips. Tips about Graham and Matthew are invaluable to police.
"We've had a number of tips that continue to come in from the public and we appreciate those tips. They help direct our search efforts each and every day,” said Colonel Steve Sellers of the Albemarle County Police Department.
Finding out more about Matthew from people who knew him is vital to investigators.
"Regardless of how small the information is, when you add it all up, we're able to develop a better profile of him and it helps aid the investigation and the search,” said Sellers.
Some search crews will continue to clear rural parts of the county throughout the week. Resources like tracking dogs will continue to hit the ground every day.
"It's putting a stress and a load on us, but its still rewarding because every time we go out and search something even if we don't find anything at all, we've eliminated or potentially eliminated an area,” said Sharon Johnson, K-9 handler.
Thirty-five police officers were out searching Monday, but their resolve as a team to bring Graham home is stronger than ever.
Charlottesville police continue to ask property owners, especially those with large parcels of land, to check their property.