Albemarle County, Va. - The Virginia Medical Examiner's Office says the human remains discovered in Albemarle County belong to missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham, according the Albemarle County Police Department.
The remains were taken to the Medical Examiner’s Office in Richmond for positive identification after a search team found the remains on Saturday.
The remains were discovered on an abandoned property eight miles from where Graham was last seen.
“The focus of the investigation now is to determine what charges will be brought and the appropriate time to make those charges. We are working diligently with local law enforcement on the investigation to ensure that we make the best determination for our community and the Grahams in the pursuit of justice,” Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney Denise Lunsford said in a statement.
Hannah’s parents John and Sue Graham released the following statement:
When we first met Chief Longo he promised to find our precious daughter, Hannah, and during five long weeks his resolve to fulfill that promise never wavered. When we started this journey together we all hoped for a happier ending. Sadly that was not to be, but due to the tenacity and determination of Chief Longo, Hannah is coming home to us and we will be eternally grateful to him for this.
The search for Hannah would not have been successful were it not for the many, many people who helped, including Mark Eggeman and VDEM, local, state and federal law enforcement officers, the staff of the City of Charlottesville, and the dedicated members of numerous volunteer search and rescue groups. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We also give our heartfelt thanks to all those who took part in the community search, to the citizens of Charlottesville, and to the individuals, businesses and organizations, both local and national, who provided untold resources to help support the search for Hannah. We would also like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to those who provided support to us and to our family throughout this ordeal, including the staff and students of the University of Virginia, our friends, neighbors and work colleagues, the staff and students of West Potomac High School, Hannah’s friends, and the countless kind people who have sent us messages of support. We thank you all.
We are devastated by the loss of our beautiful daughter, Hannah. Over recent weeks Hannah has been described by those who know her as bright, witty, thoughtful, loyal and fun to be around. She was all those things and more. Put simply, Hannah lit up our lives, the lives of our family and the lives of her friends and others who knew her. Although we have lost our precious Hannah, the light she radiated can never be extinguished. We will hold it in our hearts forever and it will help sustain us as we face a painful future without her. We are so very proud of Hannah and all that she achieved. Although only 18 years old, Hannah had just started her second year at the University of Virginia when she disappeared and was excelling academically. She loved U.Va. and the City of Charlottesville, and was very happy to return there after the summer break. Hannah had intended to pursue a career in global public health, she wanted to help others, and it is heart-breaking for us that she was robbed so tragically of the opportunity to fulfill her dream.
In closing we would like to draw attention to the fact that, although the waiting has ended for us, there are other families both in Virginia and beyond who have not been as fortunate in that their loved ones are still missing. Please continue to hold these families in your thoughts and prayers.
We do not intend to make any further statements at this time, nor to comment on the ongoing criminal investigation. We ask the media to respect our privacy and that of our family as we continue to grieve. — John and Sue Graham
- Abandoned property where human remains found in search for Hannah Graham likened to ‘horror film’ set
- Jesse Matthew will move from Charlottesville to Fairfax
- Hannah Graham’s case a death investigation after human remains found
Graham was last spotted on several surveillance cameras, in Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall area. The footage showed her leaving the Tempo Bar around 2 a.m. on September 13, followed by a man.
The man, identified by police as 32-year-old Jesse Matthew, is the only person who’s been detained in connection with the disappearance. He’s charged with abduction with the intent to defile.
Matthew has also been linked by forensic evidence to the case of Morgan Harrington, a 20-year-old Virginia Tech student who was last seen hitchhiking along U.S. 29 outside of Charlottesville in October 2009. She was found dead on a nearby farm the following January.
Incidents Jesse Matthew Jr. has been connected to:
- Oct. 17, 2002 – Alleged sexual assault at Liberty University
- Sept. 7, 2003 – Reported Christopher Newport University assault
- Sept. 24, 2005 – Northern Virginia rape (forensic evidence linked to Morgan Harrington case)
- Oct. 17, 2009 – Morgan Harrington disappearance
- Sept. 13, 2014 – Hannah Graham disappearance
Law enforcement investigating cases for possible connection to Matthew:
- July 24, 2003 — Autumn Day in Newport News
- Sept. 7, 2003 – Sophia Rivera in Newport News
- August 26, 2009 – Heidi Childs and David Metzler, in Blacksburg
- Oct. 10, 2009 – Cassandra Morton, not far from Lynchburg
- Sept. 13, 2010 – Samantha Clarke, in Orange County
Cases unsolved in the area near Charlottesville
- Jan. 24, 2010 – Joan Cook, Roanoke County
- Nov. 21, 2011 — Lauren Smith, Madison County
- Nov. 20, 2012 — Dashad Sage Smith, Charlottesville
- August 3, 2013 – Alexis Murphy, Shipman (Randy Taylor jailed for this, body never found)
The CNN Wire contributed to this report