Hannah Graham, a second year student at the University of Virginia, was discovered missing last Sunday when friends realized no one had seen or heard from her since the prior morning when she texted a friend saying she was leaving a party.
In the past five years, at least three other young women from the area have disappeared. The first was 19-year-old Samantha Ann Clarke, who vanished after leaving her townhome in Orange County in September 2010, the second 19-year-old DaShad Laquinn Smith who went missing in November 2012 from Charlottesville, and third, Morgan Harrington, a 20-year-old student who disappeared after leaving an October 2009 rock concert.
Harrington’s remains were found three months after going missing but at this time, no one has been arrested, nor has anyone been connected to the other two women’s disappearance. Graham, now the fourth women to disappear, is a 5’11 student with the University of Virginia who has light brown hair and freckles.
Surveillance photos were released to the public of Graham seen wearing a gold and black crop top and black slacks, the same clothes friends believes she was wearing when she disappeared. According to Teresa A. Sullivan, President of the University, the community has united and is deeply concerned for Graham’s safety.
The current search is being handled based on a video obtained by police showing the young woman leaving a bar early Saturday morning. While the actual video has not been released, Lt. Robbie Roberts said in a news release that the search has now shifted to the east of the original investigation’s focus.
Using trained bloodhounds, a large area located to the northeast of the university campus was searched yesterday but no trace of Graham was detected. John and Susan Graham, parents of Hannah, along with her brother James, told reporters that they are hopeful their daughter and sister will be found but they are completely heartbroken.
The family also stated that Graham was extremely responsible and not the kind of person who would simply walk away without getting into contact with someone from the family or her friends.
In addition to officials with the Virginia State Police and Albemarle County Sheriff’s Department being involved with the search, it was just announced that the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has now joined forces. Roberts said that while there have been other young women who went missing from the area, officials do not believe the Graham case has any connection.
With three law enforcement agencies involved, teams have been assembled in a local park where maps of the area were handed out. Captain Guy Williams with the Albermale County Reserve Division is trying to remain optimistic and reminds people that there is a highy skilled search and rescue group comprised of 60 officers from the reserve division working to find Graham.
In addition to the organized groups of law enforcement officials, an additional 100 people from the community are lending a hand.
A Facebook page has been created specific to finding Heather Graham, as well as a web page with the University on which people can provide information about the case. If anyone has information, they can also contact law enforcement by calling 434-970-3280.