The Hannah Graham disappearance has taken a new turn, as police questioned a "person of interest" in the case. The 18-year-old college student from the University of Virginia is the target of an intense search by authorities, and her parents fear foul play may be involved in the case.
On Sept. 19, police searched an apartment and automobile, in what is being described as a major breakthrough in the investigation. Search warrants were issued based on a number of tips from people who claimed to have information concerning the missing teenager.
Graham was last seen by friends leaving a party in Charlottesville on Sept. 13. A surveillance video showed the teenager visited a downtown pedestrian mall before texting friends that she was lost. The video shows an African-American male approaching the teen, and putting his arm around her as the two talked. The man is believed to be between his late 20s and early 30s, and was wearing a white T-shirt with black pants.
The person of interest to whom police talked is also of African-American descent. He is nearly six feet tall, weighs between 250 and 285 pounds, and has a slightly protruding gut. The man wears a goatee and close-shaven hair on his head.
Three males were present at the apartment when police executed their search warrant, but no one there was detained or arrested during the search. The vehicle was seized and is being searched by authorities.
Charlottesville, Virginia is a college town with a population of 45,000 people. Over 800 people have, so far, signed up to help search for the missing student.
"Local and state emergency officials are seeking volunteers to assist with a mass search for Hannah Graham planned for early Saturday, Sept. 20. Graham is a student at the University of Virginia who has been missing since Saturday morning," the Virginia Department of Emergency Management stated.
Volunteers who wished to take part in the search were required to register and undergo a background check prior to heading out with emergency workers. The state department was looking for people with previous search and military experience, in addition to those without training.
More than 1,000 people attended a campus vigil for Graham, held on Sept. 18. Organizers handed out pink Starburst candies, Graham's favorite sweet treat. A letter read out loud at the ceremony read, in part, "You make things good, Hannah Graham. Where are you?"
Graham is described as 5 feet 11 inches tall, with light brown hair, blue eyes, and freckles. When last seen, the teenager was wearing black pants and a black top with mesh panels.