The father of a University of Virginia student who has been missing for more than a week spoke publicly for the first time Sunday, appealing to anyone with information to come forward in hopes that the family's “nightmare” of searching for the missing teen would end. “Who saw Hannah?” asked John Graham, at a press conference, with his wife, Sue, standing next to him. “Somebody knows what happened to Hannah.”
Graham thanked the more than 1,000 volunteers who combed Charlottesville, where Graham was last seen, from morning to night on Saturday and Sunday. “I think that the reason that Hannah has such marvelous support is that this is every parent’s worst nightmare,” Graham said.
Graham expressed hope that his daughter would be found alive, and he said friends who have been sending him messages of support are also hopeful for a positive outcome. "'Hannah is brilliant, resilient, determined and loves life more than anybody else I know,'" Graham said Hannah’s former teacher wrote to him in an email. “If anybody could get through this, it is Hannah,” she wrote.
Graham went missing in the early morning hours of Sept. 13 after leaving an off-campus party. Earlier in the week, Charlottesville police described a person who they believe was with Hannah before she disappeared, and on Sunday identified him as Jesse Matthew. Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo said Matthew arrived at the police department on Saturday, met with a lawyer and then left. He was later caught driving dangerously, and a warrant is out for his arrest for reckless driving, Longo said. “I hope and pray that we might have an opportunity to talk to Jesse Matthew again,” Longo said. “We want to talk to him about his interaction with a sweet young girl that we can’t find.”
A two-day search for Graham that drew hundreds from the community — and some from across the country — covered 85 percent of the city, said search coordinator Mark Eggeman. The search “generated more leads,” and would become increasingly “targeted” in coming days, Eggeman said.
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— Elisha Fieldstadt