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Hannah Graham Disappearance Rattles University of Virginia Students

Students at University of Virginia are using the buddy system, tracking apps on their phones and calling ahead after the 18-year-old vanished.

University of Virginia looks like business as usual — students playing Frisbee on the lawn, rushing to class, heading to practice — but since the disappearance of Hannah Graham early Saturday, students say they are starting to feel uneasy at their home away from home.

Police in Charlottesville have pledged an “aggressive investigation" for the missing 18-year-old, who vanished in the early morning hours of Saturday shortly after leaving an off-campus party. Female students told NBC News Wednesday they’re on edge.

“I think now I’m definitely much more aware of my surroundings,” said Ellie Fogg, junior. “I definitely would just never walk home alone again.” Others are using the buddy system when going out, downloading mobile apps so friends and families can see their location, and checking in with peers to let them know where they’re going and when they should arrive.

Surveillance video shows Graham briefly interacting with someone outside a Charlottesville bar at 12:46 a.m. before walking off alone. About 10 minutes later a gas station camera caught her briefly running and then walking again, a witness reported spotting the sophomore walking towards downtown at 1 a.m., and 20 minutes after that Graham sent a text to a friend. She has not been seen since.

Student Branika Scott said that whatever precautions Graham's classmates have taken in the wake of the disappearance, most have one thing on their mind: "We just want her to be back. We want her to be safe."


— Tracy Jarrett