Police resume search for missing Virginia student

AP News
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Posted: Sep 16, 2014 6:29 PM
Police resume search for missing Virginia student

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Police adjusted their search area Tuesday for a missing University of Virginia student, at least the fourth young woman to go missing in the area in the past five years.

The shift in the search for Hannah Elizabeth Graham is based on video that police obtained showing Graham walking early Saturday outside of a bar where she was last seen, Lt. Robbie Roberts said in a news release.

The video, which was not released, shifted the search east of the original focus of the investigation, he said.

Police used a bloodhound to search a large area northeast of the university on Monday and found no trace of Graham, 18, who is from Alexandria.

In a statement issued by the university, her parents John and Susan Graham and brother James said they are "heartbroken" but hopeful Graham will be found.

"Those of us who know and love Hannah know that she would not disappear without contacting family or friends," the family's statement said. "She is highly responsible and organized."

The Grahams are in Charlottesville, Capt. Gary Pleasants said.

Virginia State Police and the Albemarle County Sheriff's Office were assisting as officials resumed the search. The FBI, the Virginia State Police and other law enforcement agencies have joined the search, Roberts said.

Roberts also said he was not familiar with all the cases of missing women in the area, but he did not believe there was a connection.

Police said Graham's friends reported her missing Sunday after realizing nobody had seen or heard from her since early Saturday morning, when she sent a text message to a friend after leaving a party.

At least three other young women have disappeared in the area in the last five years. Nineteen-year-old Samantha Ann Clarke, who vanished after leaving her Orange County town house in September 2010, and 19-year-old DaShad Laquinn Smith, who disappeared in Charlottesville in November 2012, remain missing.

Morgan Harrington, a 20-year-old Virginia Tech student, disappeared from the University of Virginia's John Paul Jones Arena while attending a rock concert in October 2009. Her remains were found three months later in a rural area. No arrests have been made.

According to university officials, Graham is 5-foot-11 with blue eyes, light brown hair and freckles. Police released surveillance photos showing Graham dressed in the black slacks and gold and black crop top she was believed to be wearing when she disappeared.

University President Teresa A. Sullivan issued a statement saying the community is "united in our deep concern" for the first-year student.

A "Help Find Hannah Graham" page was established on Facebook.

Police have established a designated tip line for information on Graham. The number is 434-295-3851.