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Hannah Graham: Arrest warrant issued after ‘person of interest’ speeds away from police

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- An arrest warrant has been issued for Jesse Matthew, the man with dreadlocks spotted on surveillance video who police believe has information about missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham, Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo said during a Sunday afternoon press conference. Matthew, 32,  is wanted on two counts of reckless driving after Virginia State Police saw him speed away from Charlottesville police headquarters Saturday.

Longo said Matthew walked into the station and asked for a lawyer late Saturday afternoon. After he spoke with a lawyer, Longo said Matthew left the station, got into a vehicle with another person and sped off.

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RELATED: Hannah Graham's parents speak out for first time; beg for info about missing UVa. student

State and federal investigators followed the vehicle, but had to give up the pursuit because the vehicle was traveling too fast.

"State and federal authorities who were overtly monitoring his movement saw him get into a car and leave a location to Albemarle County at a high rate of speed,  driving in a matter that was reckless and placed others in danger," Chief Longo said.

Accordingly, Virginia State Police charged Matthew with two counts of reckless driving, a Class 1 misdemeanor, and an arrest warrant was issued.

Longo said he would not speculate on why Matthew sped off, but said investigators are "aggressively pursuing his location."

Longo also pointed out that while at the police station, Matthew did not give investigators any additional information about his interaction with Graham at the Tempo bar and restaurant.

"I believe Jesse Matthew was the last person she was seen with before she vanished off the face of the earth,” Longo said. “It’s been a week and we can’t find her. It’s been a week and someone has got to know something."

That said, the police chief reminded the community, "Don’t get tunnel vision just because we have a name."

As police awaited test results from forensic evidence recovered from Matthew's car, seized Friday morning, investigators provided new photos of the vehicle -- a 1998 burnt orange Chrysler Coupe -- parked either along 4th Street or somewhere else near the mall.

Police said Matthew is the man seen in surveillance video taken from Sal’s Restaurant. The video showed a man with dreadlocks first walking west bound on the mall. The video then showed the man cross the mall, and start walking behind Hannah, eastbound.

However, police would not comment Sunday on whether Matthew and Graham were captured on surveillance video getting into Matthew’s car.

"I think he can help us find Hannah Graham," Longo reiterated. "We want to talk to him about his interaction with a sweet young girl we cannot find.”

Matthew is described as a black male with dreadlocks, six feet two inches tall and weighing about 270 pounds.

If you have information that could help investigators, call the special Hannah Graham tip line at 434-295-3851.

Parents Desperate for Answers 

Hannah Graham's parents made a desperate plea for information about their missing daughter when they spoke out publicly for the first time during a Sunday afternoon news conference.

John Graham spoke lovingly of his daughter, as his wife, Sue, stood by his side.

He begged anyone who had information into the whereabouts of his 18-year-old daughter, a second-year University of Virginia student, to come forward.

"This is every parent’s worst nightmare," John Graham said. "We need to find out what happened to Hannah to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else."

The couple thanked the hundreds of volunteers who spent the weekend searching for any clue that could help solve the mystery of what happened to Hannah.

“We have been utterly overwhelmed this week by the generosity of spirit of everybody we have met – and many more besides whom we've been unable to meet. We understand that over a thousand volunteers have been out combing Charlottesville, looking for our girl, yesterday and today.”

Graham's parents shared some favorite memories of their daughter, describing her as someone who loved helping people.

“Last Spring Break, instead of hanging around on the beach, she spent a week in Tuscaloosa rebuilding houses,” her father said.

John Graham showed off Hannah's favorite stuffed animal, a white rabbit named BB, given to her when she was less than a week old.

“He was Hannah's constant guardian and companion friend until last month when she chose to return to Charlottesville without him.”

John Graham showed off Hannah's favorite stuffed animal, a white rabbit named BB, given to her when she was less than a week old.

John Graham showed off Hannah's favorite stuffed animal, a white rabbit named BB, given to her when she was less than a week old.

Hannah had once lost BB as a child, but the animal was safely returned to her.

"All we want to do now is bring Hannah home safely ," he said.

Volunteers Comb Charlottesville for Clues

Over the weekend, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management said over 1,200 people came out to search for Graham in Charlottesville. The massive search began Saturday and continued through Sunday at 6 p.m.

Among the volunteers looking for Graham is the family of Alexis Murphy. Murphy was the high school student from nearby Nelson County who disappeared last year. A man was later arrested and convicted for her abduction and murder, even though her body was never found.

Reward Offered 

A $50,000 reward is now being offered in hopes of soliciting tips that could lead police to Graham. The City of Charlottesville and the University of Virginia are each offering $10,000. In addition, some local residents and businesses have contributed $30,000 to the reward.

All surveillance videos can be seen here. All reports filed on this case can be found here.

Depend on CBS 6 News and WTVR.com for the most complete coverage of this important story. 

56 comments

  • john

    Why not continue the pursuit of speeding or radio for a roadblock or chopper, this sounds like they let the only suspect just leave!

    • Tiffany White

      I think the police were scared that a high speed chase may result in Matthews wrecking his car, which could lead to his death. And if he dies, then the police will not be able to get any answers from him at all. It is possible that he has her hidden and tied up somewhere. And he may be the only one who knows where she is, and if something happens to him, then there would be no one else to feed her and she would die. I get why the police did not want a high speed chase as they do need the suspect alive, but they sure did not need to lose him either. I sure hope they find him again! Soon! I’m praying for Hannah and her family!

      • Kenny Powers

        He wasn’t under arrest when he sped off. He had come down voluntarily to police hq and “lawyered up”. I assume surveillance team was trying to tail him, when he decided to drive like a maniac out of there. The cops went and got warrants for him. I would guess he has a gps stuck on his car somewhere or they are pinging his cell phone. They know where he is, just hoping he will lead them to her or more clues. CPD is slowly but surely building a case against this creep. Chasing him down the other day, would have resulted in a dead end for the case if he is guilty of anything more than reckless driving.

      • Tar Zan

        I’m confused about this as well. Sounds like there is more to the story that police are not telling the media. “federal investigators followed the vehicle, but had to give up the pursuit because Matthew was speeding.” I feel that the chances of him dying in a car wreck were pretty slim, and this wasn’t their reason for stopping the pursuit. I can’t think of any circumstances where police (federal investigators) would just give up in a car chase unless they lost him. Also, if he wasn’t being charged with anything, then why would he break the law and speed away, giving them more suspicion that he was up to something? If he came in voluntarily, couldn’t he have left voluntarily? They probably did track him through other means, especially if it was the feds, but that seems like sort of a gray area in what they can legally do, so it wasn’t told to the media. Lots of unanswered questions here. I hope police get to the bottom of it soon and return Hannah to her parents.

    • Barbara Nordin

      The police have had to stop high-speed chases, at least in many jurisdictions, because other motorists, etc., were being hit and/or killed. At some point, they can’t justify jeopardizing innocent people.

  • Meaghan

    I get what you’re saying John. However, there was blood of Alexis Murphy, found in home of the suspect. I feel like he was involved somehow, but I was really shocked he was convicted with no body or cause of death. Especially after the Casey Anthony verdict when everything was circumstantial and she was found not guilty.

    • Belsma

      Randy Taylor offered to tell LE where Alexis’ body was in order for a plea deal. Why offer that if you are innocent? Prosecutors and the family did not agree on the plea deal. I do have to say I admire the passion that the Chief is putting into this investigation.

    • Meaghan

      Oh wow Belsma…I never knew that part of the story. I would’ve taken the deal just to find my daughters body, if I were the family

    • Belsma

      I think the family came to terms that she was dead and did not want him out.. ever.. to destroy another family. However, now there is someone else out there and unfortunately there always will be that preys on innocent people.

  • Meaghan

    So he has a warrant for his arrest for reckless driving based on what investigators “saw”?There was no police officer to pull him over or clock his speed? yeah, THAT will hold up in court

    • athynz

      Are you saying that you cannot tell when someone is driving recklessly – speeding, weaving in and out of lanes, etc? As trained observers I’m sure the police can tell better than any of us laymen if someone is driving recklessly. My question is why would he drive like that when he willingly went to the police station, spoke with a lawyer, then left and was not a named suspect or person of interest at that time?

  • Mandy

    What the hey with this investigation? Who agrees with me that this is evolving into a very different approach to dealing with and/or questioning a suspect?

    • Shana (@shanadkk)

      I believe it was a human trafficking ring, and she was transported to the coast, and to a customer in another country. I believe the white guy at the Mall was the spotter. These gangs are organized, they know what the are doing, and it’s the second fastest growing crime in the US.

      • Belsma

        Are you serious??? Did you contact the tip line? So, has Alexis, Samantha and Natalie Holloway all been shipped off to another country as well? What about all the other missing persons in this country? All shipped off?

      • brian

        Belsma, you are an over reacting dolt. You could possibly cause a person to become meaninglessly interesting to the police with a stupid reply like that. She was basing her comment off an idea. A theory. No need for her to be an unnecessary factor to this problem. She’s just smart and you’re not I am sure the pigs I mean pigs wait, the police, have thought of that already. You might be surprised that they know what they are doing. Even though they are pigs.

      • Belsma

        At Brian..don’t even know what a “dolt” is, but sounds like something my 14 year old would call someone. I was being sarcastic in my post. Just like I suggested elsewhere that some poster said that these healthy kids were being taken and killed to harvest their organs to be sold to an organization that is reputable. You calling LE “pigs” is immature and makes it seem like you have an issue with them. Grow up dude. Oh, and by the way I am smart, but don’t mind admitting I have “flake out” moments. Has nothing to do with this case though.

  • Jane Smith

    Why don’t you support the police? They are doing everything they can. The police said he was driving in a fashion that might put others in danger so they couldn’t stop him. Also, they don’t want him to crash his car into something because they need to talk to him to get information about Hannah.

  • Mike whatley

    Rest assured if this were LA, Matthews would not have eluded police. Spin this any way you like C’Ville police lost this guy. He’ll resurface but the odds of safely recovering this kid grow longer with each passing hour.

  • Joy Banger

    It’s unlikely that she will turn up alive, and I don’t know why you’re jumping ahead to “they’re going to charge another person for murder without a body”. The investigation just started. Also, please never serve on a jury if you a think it cannot be sufficiently or even categorically proved that someone is dead without the presence of a body. There are scenarios where it can be forensically proven beyond a reasonable doubt – even in the absence of a body – that a person is deceased and that another person is responsible for the death.

    • Outofstars

      Well…In the state of Virginia there has only been about three trials for murder without a body. Alexis Murphy ‘ murder trial sadly being the third. Do while common across the country not here in VA.

  • lu

    Is this why she lived off campus? So she could drink and wander around town at one AM, by herself? I see a troubled young woman here. She did not need the freedom and choices of that campus. She needed counseling.

    • Belsma

      What the heck are you talking about? She is 18, she could have gone anywhere she wanted even if she lived on campus. You need a wakeup call. I don’t understand why people seem “appalled” that college kids are out at 1am on a Friday! Either you were raised in a bubble, never went to college or never were a young adult (which is impossible).

    • T

      Wow! We have a young girl missing and we have heartless people saying hurtful things about a young girl they never met.
      My thoughts and prayers are with the parents and I pray for all heartless people on this blog. I think the Charlottesville Police have done a great job.

    • athynz

      No one blamed him – however the fact that he lawyered up at the police station then sped off recklessly seems to be an indication of him possibly feeling guilty about something. And funny thing if you recall the Alexis Murphy case no one blamed a black man but had their sights squarely set on Randy Taylor. So please stop with your overplayed race card and shouting. Thanks.

    • Belsma

      No, “we” don’t. That is your perception. I am fairly sure we just want to find the killer of Morgan and locate Samantha, Alexis and now Hannah and every other person missing in the region and heck, around the country.

  • brian

    Hey dumbass, you don’know for a fact if she is not with us anymore. Don’t assume the worst. Especially with the lame detail following your assumption. I’m very happy to know that I’m not in a class of stupidity.

  • G W

    There is more that the police aren’t saying. For example: online activities of Graham and Matthews. Did they know each other? Is there any abnormal behavior fro Matthews? What about license-plate cameras? They are everywhere, so they must know by now if that car passed any of those cameras during the time on Friday night. And, there has to bemore vido footage of Graham walking around other than the few images we have seen. What about the bloodhound? Where did that lead? Do Graham’s friends know this guy?

    • Jorge M

      I believe her and this Jesse guy where more than just friends. I believe they where in a relationship. What kind? we will find out eventually…

  • John

    If he was being followed by unmarked cop cars, why wouldn’t he speed off just in case it wasn’t the cops and just some nut wanting to get attention by hurting the guy for the girls family or something. Do cops arrest everyone for reckless driving? Or is it just a black thing. I bet it’s a false charge to harass him in the first place, it’s his right if he doesn’t want to come forward and talk to police. Being black is reason enough for him to not want to be involved. This country hasn’t a good track record towards blacks so this may be his way of punishing whites. He may have done what the lawyer said and that was to leave without comment.

    • Robbie

      John, I want to apologize for the way this country has treated blacks in the past. As a gesture to help make things right let me purchase a one way ticket for you and anymore of you whiner’s back to your roots in Africa. I’m sure you’ll be welcomed home with open arms. Of course there is no welfare, ebt cards or handouts there so you may not survive long.

  • John

    Maybe this guy threw her body in a dumpster that morning and it’s out at the dump or recycling place. Surely they have a dog out there checking. Hopefully this girl met up with some guy and went to a hotel and didn’t turn on the tv until it was news, then she made a poor choice to hide in order to not face the questions about where and who she was with. Until they find her, there’s that chance she’s still alive, we’ve seen it to many times, just hope it doesn’t go on for years before they see their daughter again.

  • Epiglotus McFadden

    White women tend to have a recurring fantasy of being with an African an. I don’t know whyt that is, it just is. Maybe she is living out her fantasy. I’m sure she is just fine.

    • ANONYMOUS

      Nope….I’m a white woman, and get constantly asked out by black men, but I am not interested. I have no fantasies whatsoever. I prefer white men…they treat me better.

    • athynz

      AHA! So THAT’s the issue with you Timmay! Your wife left you for a black man. That explains your war on women and minorities. I’d say I’m sorry but quite frankly it seems like you weren’t treating your now ex-wife right to begin with for her to have a wandering eye.

  • Jorge M

    I believe her and this Jesse guy where more than just friends. I believe they where in a relationship. What kind? we will find out eventually…

  • Clotorus McDonald

    Let’s not kid ourselves, she left that bar of her own free will. She’s not a very good looking woman, so she was probably happy for the attention. Women love to be the center of attention.

  • Sunny Cal

    I am very concerned for the welfare of this poor girl. The whole thing sounds very fishy. I hope she has not been abducted by human traffickers to force her into prostitution somewhere.

  • warlord link

    Nancy grace got new stuff on her show they say was lots witnesses that saw her get in matthew car,they got into his apartment ran into it got cloths and his car,,he on run in his sister car….they say they doing dna on the cloths and car,,,they got apb warrant out for him and states he might be in…ya are petition john walsh get his show back on fox network america most wanted it huge and helped the law find people,crooks and more need petition get it back on go to http://www.change.org petition get show back on fox network get the government and army to sponsor it with companies his show made the usa safer,,he does have new show on cable,,but i love see amc back on fox

  • warlord link

    i dont know but seem woma on nancy grace seem say they got something they going be finish soon with dna they got his car must found something..they know more than us the law…..google earth might saw something or bing or nasa or the drones..i say in few more days they tell us more,,,,maybe she pop up..its award 80,000 total for her to be found alive cash…..got be folks saw her walking and stuff maybe someone took iphone recorded her and the guy and followed his car and saw it….did he take her to his place ??? she not in college has not called her family ??? i dont think she had a phone…you would not run from the law if you was innocent,,hes guilty if he was not he would not run in his sister car….i can tell hes lieing….this why police need to drive around virginia and keep eye out for folks walking give them help home or back to school this will save lives need more cops on the street and roads to watch out and i really think drones should watch over area so everyone be safer the law can come in on stuff before it happens

  • warlord link

    this serious stuff ya she been gone for since sept 13 1.20 am this be 11 days now…all that money aint someone going talk get that money i bet his friends tell on him i bet his family tell on him,,someone got to do something hurry up find her shes britists,

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