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Medical Examiner Confirms Hannah Graham's Remains Found in Albemarle

Posted: Updated: Oct 25, 2014 11:38 AM
Hannah Graham Hannah Graham
Old Lynchburg Road crime scene Old Lynchburg Road crime scene

The medical examiner's office in Richmond has now confirmed that the human remains discovered on October 18 in Albemarle County are those of missing University of Virginia second-year student Hannah Graham. 

Police say Graham was last seen on Charlottesville's downtown mall in the early morning hours of September 13. Her remains were found on an abandoned property off Old Lynchburg Road in Albemarle County last Saturday - five weeks after she was last seen. 

Police released a statement Friday afternoon announcing the ID confirmation. Police notified Graham's parents following the positive identification from the medical examiner's office. 

Graham's parents, John and Sue Graham, released a statement regarding the identification. In the statement, the Graham's say that they are devastated by the loss of their daughter and thank law enforcement for their unwavering efforts. They thank Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo, saying, " due to the tenacity and determination of Chief Longo, Hannah is coming home to us and we will be eternally grateful to him for this." Read the statement in full below. 

Jim Camblos, Jesse Matthew's attorney, also released a statement Friday on behalf of Matthew's family. Matthew is facing an abduction with intent to defile charge in connection with the Graham case. Police say he has also been forensically linked to the Morgan Harrington case from 2009. He was indicted of charges related to a sexual assault in Fairfax in 2005 earlier this week. 

In the statement, Camblos says "The Carrs asked me to convey that they will continue to pray for the Graham's and the Harrington's throughout this ordeal." Read the full statement below.

Friday, Students at UVA offered their condolences to Graham's friends and family. They say the news is heartbreaking. "Everyone here feels for her family, for her friends. I guess it's nice that at least there's some kind of closure, because it's just been this sort of waiting game. I think it's been hard for a lot of people here," said student Kristen Vretakis.

The students we spoke to Friday said they are proud of UVA and the city of Charlottesville for working together with the goal of bringing Graham home.

Police are not saying at this point how and when Graham died, or how she ended up on the property in Albemarle. Police say they will now move forward with the death investigation and ask people to continue to call with tips or any information regarding the case. The Charlottesville Police Department tip line remains open at 434-295-3851. 

Albemarle County Police Department Press Release

On Saturday, October 18th human remains were discovered in southern Albemarle County.

The remains were sent to the Medical Examiner's Office in Richmond for examination and positive identification. The Medical Examiner's Office has confirmed that these are the remains of Hannah Graham, 18, of Fairfax, Va.

Following the positive identification, Albemarle County Police Chief, Colonel Steve Sellers and ACPD Detective Sergeant Terry Walls notified Hannah's parents, John and Sue Graham. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Graham family and Hannah's friends during this incredibly difficult time. We ask that you respect their privacy.

We also ask for your cooperation as we now move forward with the death investigation. Since the discovery along Old Lynchburg Road, officers and detectives have been working around the clock to process the scene and preserve evidence. Our focus is on the investigation and therefore, we will not be answering questions regarding the case or investigation. We do ask that people continue to call in with tips or information. We are asking to hear from individuals who live along Old Lynchburg Road or who might have seen suspicious behavior in the area following Hannah's disappearance. The Charlottesville PD tip line remains open at 434-295-3851.

We continue to work with our local, state and federal partners. We are working with the Charlottesville Police Department, the Fairfax City Police Department and the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation's Appomattox Field Office which is the lead agency on the Morgan Harrington investigation.

We would like to thank everyone for their continued support during this difficult time. We remain committed to this investigation and will work to ensure that justice is served.

Statement from John and Sue Graham:

When we first met Chief Longo he promised to find our precious daughter, Hannah, and during five long weeks his resolve to fulfill that promise never wavered. When we started this journey together we all hoped for a happier ending. Sadly that was not to be, but due to the tenacity and determination of Chief Longo, Hannah is coming home to us and we will be eternally grateful to him for this.

The search for Hannah would not have been successful were it not for the many, many people who helped, including Mark Eggeman and VDEM, local, state and federal law enforcement officers, the staff of the City of Charlottesville, and the dedicated members of numerous volunteer search and rescue groups. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We also give our heartfelt thanks to all those who took part in the community search, to the citizens of Charlottesville, and to the individuals, businesses and organizations, both local and national, who provided untold resources to help support the search for Hannah. We would also like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to those who provided support to us and to our family throughout this ordeal, including the staff and students of the University of Virginia, our friends, neighbors and work colleagues, the staff and students of West Potomac High School, Hannah's friends, and the countless kind people who have sent us messages of support. We thank you all.

We are devastated by the loss of our beautiful daughter, Hannah. Over recent weeks Hannah has been described by those who know her as bright, witty, thoughtful, loyal and fun to be around. She was all those things and more. Put simply, Hannah lit up our lives, the lives of our family and the lives of her friends and others who knew her. Although we have lost our precious Hannah, the light she radiated can never be extinguished. We will hold it in our hearts forever and it will help sustain us as we face a painful future without her. We are so very proud of Hannah and all that she achieved. Although only 18 years old, Hannah had just started her second year at the University of Virginia when she disappeared and was excelling academically. She loved UVA and the City of Charlottesville, and was very happy to return there after the summer break. Hannah had intended to pursue a career in global public health, she wanted to help others, and it is heart-breaking for us that she was robbed so tragically of the opportunity to fulfill her dream.

In closing we would like to draw attention to the fact that, although the waiting has ended for us, there are other families both in Virginia and beyond who have not been as fortunate in that their loved ones are still missing. Please continue to hold these families in your thoughts and prayers.

We do not intend to make any further statements at this time, nor to comment on the ongoing criminal investigation. We ask the media to respect our privacy and that of our family as we continue to grieve.

John and Sue Graham

October 24, 2014

Alexandria, Virginia

Office of the Commonwealth's Attorney for the County of Albemarle Press Release

Today, the Medical Examiner's Office confirmed that the remains found in southern Albemarle County on October 18, 2014, are those of Hannah Graham. Denise Lunsford,Commonwealth's Attorney for the County of Albemarle, and her office extend their deepest sympathies to Mr. and Mrs. Graham, Hannah's brother and their family and friends.

We would like to thank the many volunteers and law enforcement personnel who spent five weeks searching tirelessly in hopes of bringing Hannah home. Your dedication and perseverance bring solace to a community that has been shaken by a senseless, horrific crime.

The focus of the investigation now is to determine what charges will be brought and the appropriate time to make those charges. We are working diligently with local law enforcement on the investigation to ensure that we make the best determination for our community and the Grahams in the pursuit of justice.

We realize that the media has a lot of questions, but it is of the utmost importance that all media outlets know that the Office of the Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney will not comment on this case or the investigation. We will take whatever measures necessary to ensure the integrity of this highly sensitive investigation and any possible prosecution. We further appreciate your cooperation in respecting the privacy of the Grahams during this incredibly difficult time.

Please continue to contact your local law enforcement with tips or information.

Statement from Jesse Matthew's attorney, Jim Camblos 

On behalf of the Carr family and speaking for myself as well, our thoughts and prayers go out to the Graham family in their time of bereavement. The Carrs asked me to convey that they will continue to pray for the Graham's and the Harrington's throughout this ordeal.

Statement from the University of Virginia

University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan issued the following statement regarding the death of UVA second-year student Hannah Graham, who had been missing since early on the morning of Sept.13:

“Hannah showed great promise as a student and as a young woman. She brought immense energy and delight to her learning at the University, and she was a source of friendship and joy for so many people here at the University and abroad, particularly her friends on the ski team. Thomas Jefferson wanted students here to fulfill ‘destinies of high promise.' For Hannah's young life to end so tragically, and for her destiny of promise to be left unfulfilled, is an affront to the sanctity of life and to the natural order of human events.

“This is a sorrowful day in the life of the University, and our entire community is grieving with the Graham family. We offer our sincere condolences for their loss, and we will continue to hold them in our thoughts and prayers in the days ahead.”

Virginia Department of Emergency Management statement

All who are trained in search and rescue embark on their mission with the sincere expectation of finding the missing person alive. We are truly saddened by the confirmation of Hannah Graham's passing. Our deepest sympathies are with her family and friends and all who knew her and loved her.

Our agency and hundreds of volunteer search teams were honored to serve the Charlottesville and Albemarle police departments, the Charlottesville/University of Virginia community and the Commonwealth of Virginia for more than 30 days in the search for Hannah. Volunteer teams logged more than 7,500 search hours and were deployed on more than 670 search tasks. We remain committed to assisting local law enforcement with the search for missing persons as needed.

We will provide no further comment.

Governor Terry McAuliffe statement

“Words cannot express Dorothy's and my sorrow over the news of Hannah Graham's passing, or the sympathy that we feel for her family, friends and all of the Virginians who have kept them in their thoughts and prayers. I want to thank the sheriff's deputies, police officers, emergency personnel, and volunteers who searched day after day in the hope of finding Hannah. Our hearts are broken by today's news, but that will not diminish our resolve to get justice for Hannah and her family.”

Robert Hurt Statement 

“I was deeply saddened by the news confirming the tragic loss of UVA student Hannah Graham. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the Graham family and friends and the University community during this very difficult time. I join the Graham family in expressing my gratitude to Chief Timothy Longo of the Charlottesville Police Department and Chief Steve Sellers of the Albemarle County Police Department for their unwavering leadership throughout the last several weeks. I also commend all the local, state, and federal law enforcement and emergency response personnel, as well as the hundreds of volunteers, all of whom worked tirelessly to find Hannah. I trust that our public servants will find the person responsible for this unspeakable act and bring swift justice and closure to the situation.”