Human remains were found Saturday on an abandoned property during the search for University of Virginia student Hannah Graham, who has been missing for more than a month, authorities said. The remains were found around noon near Old Lynchburg Road in Albemarle County, said Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo.
The area is less than 10 miles from where Graham, 18, was last seen. Longo said he “made a very difficult phone call” to Graham’s parents to share the discovery with them, but forensic tests need to be conducted to determine the identity of the remains.
"Right now we have the discovery of human remains and a great deal of work ahead of us," said Col. Steve Sellers, Albemarle County Police chief. "We cannot and will not jump to any conclusions regarding today's discovery. I ask for the public's patience as we move forward and pursue what is now a new, ongoing death investigation."
Sellers appealed to anyone who lives near Old Lynchburg Road to report anything suspicious they might have seen the night Graham went missing. Sellers said that investigators had canvassed the area where the remains were found for any evidence related to the case.
Graham vanished in the early hours of Sept. 13 after leaving an off-campus party. She was last seen on surveillance video and by witnesses with Jesse Leroy Matthew, 32, who was charged with abduction with the intent to defile in connection with the case, police have said.
Matthew’s attorney, James Camblos, told NBC News he and his client were “waiting to see the results of the medical examiner's autopsy” and had no further comment on the findings.
Volunteers and authorities scoured areas near the campus before a more refined search, based on the investigation, was conducted by officials. The Virginia Department of Emergency Management had appealed Friday for volunteers to once again assist with a search Sunday at Walnut Creek Park in Albemarle County, about four miles from where the remains were located. The search was called off Saturday night by the Albemarle County Police Department.
— Elisha Fieldstadt
NBC's Michelle Hofland contributed to this report.