CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (WWBT) - The Charlottesville Police Department obtained two videos showing the missing UVA student, Hannah Elizabeth Graham on the downtown pedestrian mall seemingly being followed by a White male. That male now says he was just trying to make sure she was safe.
"That's right the man we saw in the video actually came here to the police department. He tells us he was indeed following Hannah. He saw her. She appeared to be in distress. So he was following her to make sure she got to where she was going safely. As he was following her, he says a black male came up to her and put his arm around her. He stopped her. They were talking, and from what he could see it was either someone she knew or someone who was trying to help her. He thought everything was fine, and so he walked away," said Captain Gary Pleasants in a live interview with NBC 12.
"Any description of that black male?" we asked Captain Pleasants.
"They were still standing there when our witness left. He thought the gentleman was trying to help her, and hopefully that was the case, and if so we certainly need to speak to him," replied Captain Pleasants.
It was a dramatic end to a day in which 6 teams of more than 50 people searched for the missing teen last seen on the Downtown Mall.
"God bless these volunteers that come in from all over the state to help on these things." said Albemarle County Sheriff Chip Harding. "You pray that you might find her, and she's been injured and she's alive and we can save her, but as time goes by the concern grows greater that something bad has happened."
Police want you to see two separate videos - one captured outside of a restaurant and another outside of convenience store, where officers say the 18 year old student was intoxicated. The sheriff says this is all a tragic reminder of other cases of missing young women in the Charlottesville area.
"We are just hearing concerns from people wondering do we have a bad guy that's still in our community abducting our children?" said Sheriff Harding. "There is a little fear going in this community right now, and we feel so much for the family. I have not met Hannah's parents, but I can't imagine having children of my own…what they are going through."
Charlottesville Police released the following statement:
The first sighting is at 1:06 am taken from Sal's Pizza located at 221 E. Main St. It shows a white male walking into the cameras view, he looks over his shoulder, then steps into a doorway and Ms. Graham walks past him. After she passes, the male starts walking behind her. The second video is at 1:08 am taken from a camera at Tuel's Jewelers located at 319 E. Main St. The video shows Ms. Graham walking with the same white male some distance behind her.
UPDATE: At 10:15 pm the unidentified white male in the videos came to the police department. He told police that he was following Ms. Graham as she looked to be somewhat physically distressed and he wanted to make sure she got safely to wherever she was going. Soon after he was following her, he said that a black male came up to her and put his arm around her, stopping her. Ms. Graham and this black male started speaking and it appeared to the witness that the black male was either known to Ms. Graham or was trying to help her. The witness then walked away and he said that Ms. Graham and the black male were still standing and talking when he left. The black male is not shown in either of these videos.
Students and members of the community will be holding a candlelight vigil for Graham on Thursday night at 9:00pm EST, at the McIntire Amphitheater. Parking will be available at the Central Grounds Parking Garage at 400 Emmet Street N.
"The disappearance of Hannah Graham has shaken the University and Charlottesville to the core; and times like these are when the great strength of our communities shines through," said U.Va. Student Council President Jalen Ross.