Police in Virginia are searching for a missing student from the University of Virginia. Hannah Elizabeth Graham was seen last in Charlottesville in an apartment building located off campus a short time before midnight. The 18-year-old freshman was walking back to her home in the early morning hours on Sunday after attending a party when she sent a text message to her friends to notify them that she had become lost. The text message was sent approximately one hour after she left the party. She has not been heard from since. New security footage surfaced today of Graham in front of a local bar that may help police to ascertain her whereabouts.
Upon realizing that Graham had not returned home from the party, her friends notified police. Lt. Ronnie Roberts of the Charlottesville Police Department says that searchers with bloodhounds have combed the area located east of the University of Virginia, including railroad tracks located nearby. Although the dogs were able to pick up a scent, it turned out to be nothing. In addition, numerous tips have been received and are being investigated. As of Monday night, there were approximately 50 members of law enforcement involved in the search. As Tuesday morning dawned, searchers from the Virginia State Police, the FBI, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and the Albemarle County Sheriff’s Office were on hand to assist. The Albemarle County Police Department is providing a command center at their facility.
After security camera footage was reviewed that depicted Graham, appearing impaired and seemingly alone, in front of an Irish pub on Saturday morning at approximately 12:4 a.m., searchers on Tuesday shifted their efforts to include the area near the pub. In the video, the University of Virginia student is wearing the same clothing as in footage taken from her apartment hallway earlier that night and appears uninjured. It is possible that she had a conversation with another person outside of the pub. She did not enter the bar, but simply paced in front of the establishment for a short while before walking east. A helicopter from the Virginia State Police was seen over Charlottesville on Tuesday evening and appeared to be following the last known route of Graham. Some searchers plan to continue their efforts throughout Tuesday night.
University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan has issued a statement expressing the “deep concern” that the entire community is feeling. Students at the university have organized in order to provide volunteer student search parties.
Graham’s parents reside in Alexandria and have taken up temporary residence in Charlottesville during the search. A statement released by Graham’s family calls her “organized” and “highly responsible” and says that she would never go missing without notifying her friends or family. According to the Associated Press, Graham represents the fourth young woman to disappear within the last five years, but at this point, police do not believe the cases are connected.
According to police, the missing University of Virginia student is 5 feet 11 inches tall with a slim build. She has light brown hair, freckles and blue eyes. When last seen, she had on a short black top with mesh inserts and black pants. Charlottesville police ask anyone who has any information on where Graham may have been headed after leaving the area of the bar, or anyone who may have seen her, to call the tip line at (434) 295-3851.
By Jennifer Pfalz