Police speak with person of interest in Graham investigation, lack cause to detain

Eyewitnesses place Graham, person of interest at Tempo restaurant early Saturday morning

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Police Chief Timothy Longo implored Charlottesville residents and business owners to come forward with any information about a person of interest, described as a 6'2 black male, who is age 32, has dreadlocks and weighs an estimated 270 pounds.

Marshall Bronfin | Cavalier Daily

Charlottesville Police offered what they called “the biggest development yet” in the case of missing second-year College student Hannah Graham. Police have now received more than 400 tips relating to the disappearance.

Police have identified a man they say was seen with Graham after her last appearance on the Tuel Jeweler's surveillance video at 1:08 a.m. Saturday morning. Initially, police said Graham was walking alone in the video. Upon further review, investigators have identified a black male walking alongside her.

Photo: Marshall Bronfin

Eyewitnesses told police they saw the man, dressed in all white, come in contact with Graham as she walked eastbound and later put his hands around her waist.

Eyewitness accounts also indicate Graham entered and left Tempo Restaurant & Bar, located on 5th Street off the Downtown Mall, with the 32-year-old man — who is described as being 6-foot-2, having dreadlocks, and weighing 270 pounds.

Police Chief Timothy Longo said the man purchased alcohol at Tempo and the pair left within 15 minutes.

Police believe Graham and the person of interest entered a burnt orange 1998 Chrysler Coupe parked on 4th Street after leaving the bar.

"I cannot answer if Hannah went willingly into the car," Longo said.

Police declined to release the man's name or speak to his criminal record at this time. Additionally, they declined to elaborate on what evidence was collected at his apartment and in his car.

"There will come an appropriate time when I will release that information," Longo said. "But right now the message is: today was productive. It advanced the investigation."

Investigators and the Commonwealth Attorney did not believe there was enough evidence to detain or arrest the man, Longo said, but police did speak to him this morning when they entered the home.

"We know who he is and we are aware of where he is," said Detective Sergeant Jim Mooney, who is leading the investigation.

Though police have not identified the man as a suspect, Longo said he is still relevant to the investigation.

"I spoke with him and I want to speak with him again," Mooney said.

Longo has asked anyone who may have seen Graham and the man that night to come forward and speak with police.

"She walked from one end of the Mall to the other and she walked past people," Longo said. "People saw her in that restaurant. … People saw Hannah and people saw him — and people saw them together."

Longo also urged people who live in the area to inspect their properties and to review and disclose any personal surveillance footage they may have from the night of Graham's disappearance.

The community search, organized by the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, will still take place Saturday morning, Longo said. He could not offer specifics as to where the searches would take place.

"You can imagine we are going to re-evaluate, re-canvass, re-search," Longo said.

VDEM Public Affairs Director Dawn Eischen said 1,550 people registered online to help in the search. Staggered arrivals for volunteers will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday at John Paul Jones Arena. Searchers will be bussed to various eastbound locations and then bussed back to JPJ, Eischen said.

"The search is still on for tomorrow and as far as I know maybe into Sunday," Eischen said.

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