Search for Hannah Graham Stretches into Earlysville

Posted: Updated:
Crews search on horseback for Hannah Graham Crews search on horseback for Hannah Graham
Hannah Graham Hannah Graham
Jesse Matthew Jesse Matthew

The search for missing University of Virginia second-year student Hannah Graham has stretched into Earlysville. 

There's been no sign of Graham since she disappeared more than three weeks ago. Surveillance video shows her with Jesse Matthew on the Charlottesville downtown mall in the early morning hours of September 13. Matthew has been charged with abduction with intent to defile in connection with the case.

Search teams are working to cover a lot of ground this week.  The search coordinator expects to have an 8-mile ring around Charlottesville covered by the weekend.

NBC29 was on scene at Panorama Farms in Earlysville Wednesday. Search and rescue teams searched the property on horseback. Teams tried to search the 830-acre property Tuesday, but couldn't make it entirely on foot.

“I'm a mother and if my children were out there, I would want everybody out searching,” said Brenda Saunders, Piedmont Search and Rescue.

Some of the searchers say being on horseback gives them a higher vantage point, but one of the property owners says the search is tough.

"It is a daunting task, They were here yesterday on foot and those gentlemen walked their legs off because it is a big piece of property,” said Stephen Murray, owner.

High above Albemarle, two helicopters also circled search areas Wednesday.

“There hasn't been any significant findings,” said Mark Eggeman, VDEM.

The Virginia Department of Emergency Management brought in six surveillance analysts to pour through high-definition images collected from a plane over the weekend. They can zoom down to spot something as small as out-of-place tire tracks.

Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo says he realizes every day that goes by shifts this mission from a rescue to a recovery. Wednesday, investigators are hunting for any clues to build the criminal case against Matthew.

“There's still lots of blocks left that we haven't discovered that are important to this case. That makes this search effort even more important,” said Longo. Longo says items recovered from the blue Nissan Matthew drove to Texas as not items of interest in the case.

A box of 250 envelopes, each with a message from Graham's UVA classmates, arrived at the search headquarters Wednesday.

“These are the unsolicited acts of kindness that keep people showing up here every morning,” said Longo.

Longo says law enforcement from across the commonwealth, including 30 from Hampton Roads, will join the search this weekend.

So far, police have received 3,987 tips about this case. If you have a tip, you can call 434-295-3851 or email it to CPDtips@charlottesville.org.