CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Just a mile away from the jail cell holding Jesse Matthew Jr. — the prime suspect in the case of missing UVa student Hannah Graham — Mark Eggeman studies an enlarged map of southern Albemarle County. Highlighted in blue and yellow are the most rural, densely wooded areas of the countryside, and that's where Eggeman, a search coordinator with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, has dispatched fifty rescue workers to track down any trace of the 18-year-old.
"We're still looking for anything that might lead us to Hannah," said Eggeman. On a quiet Sunday morning, the hum of police scanning guardrails on ATVs is an unusual sight and sound for motorists making on their way to church.
Sunday's sweep of mountain roads is in part an effort to follow up on more than 1,600 tips Charlottesville police have received in the two weeks Graham has been missing. But this careful combing of farmland is also an effort to cast a wide net, given the geographic profile of previous missing person cases in the area, including the 2009 disappearance of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington.
"It's a long, laborious process, but that's the hard work that has to be done," said Eggeman. "As we move forward and we can cross out more areas — again, it's that process of elimination."
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— Katie Wall