WASHINGTON – The human remains found at an abandoned Albemarle County property last weekend are those of missing U.Va. student Hannah Graham, Albemarle officials said.
The Medical Examiner’s Office in Richmond publicly released the identification Friday.
The cause and manner of Graham’s death were not released.
However the county police say they continue to investigate her death and the commonwealth’s attorney’s office says that its focus now is to determine what charges to file and the timing of any 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,” a statement from Commonwealth’s Attorney Denise Lunsford says.
Graham’s disappearance in the early morning hours of Sept. 13 triggered a massive search effort to scour both the city of Charlottesville and the surrounding countryside for any sign of the 18-year-old from Fairfax County. Search dogs, special cameras, underwater teams, a drone, a plane and helicopters were all brought in to assist in the search.
In the process, police identified a man believed to be connected to her disappearance and recovered evidence linking that man to another young woman’s death and disappearance plus a sexual assault in Fairfax County. That man, Jesse L. Matthew, has been charged with abduction with intent to defile in connection with Graham and he was charged with multiple felonies this week in Fairfax County.
The families of two women who have disappeared from the area during the past few years – Morgan Harrington and Alexis Murphy – joined hundreds of volunteers from across the state to help in the search before a team from Chesterfield County came across what are now known to be Graham’s remains on Oct. 18.
Despite those efforts and Charlottesville Police Chief’s Tim Longo’s promise to bring Graham back to her parents, it was not the happy ending her family hoped for and they are devastated, her parents John and Sue Graham said in a statement.
“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 Graham statement reads.
“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,” they said. “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.”
Matthew’s family, the Carrs, released a statement through Jim Camblos, Matthew’s Charlottesville attorney, offering condolences to the Grahams. “They will continue to pray for the Grahams and the Harringtons throughout this ordeal,” the statement reads.
Investigators are still asking for tips related to Graham’s death. Specifically they want to hear from residents of Old Lynchburg Road or anyone who might have seen suspicious behavior in the area in the days and weeks following Graham’s disappearance. Anyone with information is asked to call the tip line at 434-295- 3851.
- Cops: Remains may be Hannah Graham
- Bench warrant issued for Matthew in 2005 sex assault
- Suspect in Va. abduction charged in D.C. area rape
- Former neighbor Jesse Matthew seemed to be a nice kid
- Man describes finding key piece of evidence linking Harrington murder, Fairfax rape case