Virginia college student's death ruled homicide

AP News
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Posted: Nov 18, 2014 5:57 PM

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — A University of Virginia student whose disappearance sparked a monthlong search died from "homicidal violence" but the exact cause is unknown, authorities said Tuesday.

The Albemarle County Police Department outlined the findings from the Virginia medical examiner's office in the death of 18-year-old Hannah Graham but said a final autopsy report has not been issued.

In an emailed statement, county police and prosecutors said they would not be answering any further questions or providing additional information so they can "protect the integrity of the case."

Graham's remains were found Oct. 18 near Charlottesville, roughly 6 miles from where the body of 20-year-old Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington was found after she vanished in 2009.

Graham met friends at a restaurant for dinner on Sept. 12 before stopping by two off-campus parties. She left the second party alone and eventually texted a friend saying she was lost, authorities said.

In surveillance video, she can be seen walking unsteadily and even running at times, past a pub and a service station and then onto a seven-block strip of bars, restaurants and shops.

The man Graham was last seen with, 32-year-old Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr., is charged with abduction with intent to defile Graham. Police have said forensic evidence connects Matthew to Harrington's killing, which in turn is linked by DNA to a 2005 sexual assault in northern Virginia. Matthew has pleaded not guilty in the 2005 case.

Following the positive identification of the remains last month, Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney Denise Lunsford said in a statement that the focus of the investigation now is to determine "what charges will be brought and the appropriate time to make those charges." In Tuesday's joint statement, county police and prosecutors said they "remain committed to the investigation."