by Jenna Rosenthal
As many of you know, University of Virginia (UVA) student Hannah Graham is missing. I’ve been a part of the UVA family for little over a month now as a first year student, and for this to happen is extremely devastating to our community and all others.
Hannah Graham a second year student at the UVA, was last seen on Sept. 13th, in the Downtown Mall area in Charlottesville. There are a few videos and witness accounts placing her at different areas throughout the night and, according to nbc29.com, she was last heard from around 1:20 a.m. with a text saying she was lost. Over the course of the investigation, the police have received many tips about that night, and have also obtained search warrants for the apartment and car of suspect Jesse Matthews, thought to be the last person to see Hannah that night. On Sept. 24th, the police issued an arrest warrant on Matthews, charging him with abduction with intent to defile. Matthews was found and arrested in Texas and was brought back to Virginia, and is being held without bond in jail. New forensic evidence was discovered during Hannah Graham’s investigation that has linked suspect Jesse Matthews to the disappearance of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington, who disappeared from the John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville in 2009. Morgan’s body was found three months after her disappearance. The police are not commenting on how this affects Hannah’s case, but the new leads are significant. Everyone is still looking for Hannah and finding her continues to be the investigation’s top priority.
For something like this to happen has affected each and every one of us at UVA in an extremely profound way. Hannah’s disappearance is a horrifying event, but also an extremely empowering time for the UVA and Charlottesville community to come together with one unified hope: for Hannah to come home.
I attended the candlelight vigil for Hannah on Sept. 18th and it was an extremely moving event. Around 2,000 people from the University of Virginia and Charlottesville communities attended. Hannah’s friends spoke about her, played her favorite songs, brought her favorite candy and the entire community united with a flame of hope for Hannah’s safe return.
It was incredibly heartbreaking because what she, her family, and the community are going through right now is more than shocking and upsetting to all of us because it has hit the community and people deep in our hearts. Additionally, although the link between Hannah and Morgan’s disappearance is a disturbing discovery, we are hopeful that it will propel the investigation forward. Through all the sadness, what her disappearance has shown is how strong and united our community is and will be in times of pain.
This is also a reminder to all of us to look out for one another. We need to remember to never leave anyone alone, be an active bystander and help out anyone who looks like they may be in trouble. Although I and many others did not know Hannah personally, we all know and love her because she is part of our community and the most important thing we can focus on right now is to bring Hannah home.