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Vigil for Missing University of Virginia Student Hannah Graham

Around 2,000 people showed up for a candlelight vigil at the University of Virginia, hoping that a missing student is found safe.

More than a thousand people gathered at a vigil for a missing University of Virginia student, praying for her safe return and asking the question which has preoccupied many since the 18-year-old disappeared after an off-campus party early Saturday: “Where are you?”

Classmates of Hannah Graham, 18, brought some reminders of the missing second-year-student’s hobbies to Thursday night’s candlelight vigil, like skis and an alto saxophone, which she plays. Organizers passed out her favorite sweets, Starburst candy. Friends wrote a letter which was read at the vigil, which appeared to draw around 2,000 people, in which they said “It's hard to fathom the confusion, fright, anger and sadness we've felt since you went missing ... You make things good, Hannah Graham. Where are you?”

"We all just want to come be here for Hannah," said Eliza Costas, a second-year student. "We are keeping her family in our prayers and hope for the best."

Graham vanished sometime early Saturday morning after she left an off-campus party, police said. Surveillance videos uncovered by investigators show the young woman interacting with someone outside a Charlottesville bar and later at a downtown mall, where a witness told police a man was seen putting his arm around the student. On Thursday police said they’re looking for that man as a “person of interest” in the case.

Dean of Students Allen Groves said he remains hopeful. "Hannah we believe is still out there, and we want to bring her back and have everyone focused on this case." He said the university will continue to emphasize to students that they should always inform friends where they are going and what time they will arrive.

Graham’s family has said they suspect foul play. On the University of Virginia campus Thursday, sophomore Meg Thornberry said women at the university are warned against walking alone at night by themselves. But, she added, “I don't think most people are worried about their own safety, but about Hannah's.”



— Tracy Jarrett