CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (WWBT) - Officers believe Hannah Graham went inside the Tempo Restaurant and Bar in the Downtown Mall with the person of interest. Police say he purchased alcohol and within 15 minutes they were gone - and officers believe she left with him in his burnt orange 1998 Chrysler coupe.
"If that young lady has touched your life in anyway," said Chief Timothy Longo in a Friday news conference. "You have the responsibility to help us find her."
Friday, officers scoured the Hessian Hills apartment complex recovering evidence from the person of interest's home.
"And although we've used this term person of interest," said Chief Longo. "I've never been quite fond of it. So let me just say...we're interested in him."
Earlier accounts suggested the person of interest had a close shaven head, but officers now say the man they want to continue talking to actually has dreads. He is 32 years old, 6 foot 2, and weighs 270 pounds.
"Was the individual who we believe was with Hannah Graham there? Yes," said Chief Longo. "Is he in custody? No. He's not in custody."
NBC 12 legal analyst Steve Benjamin says there is a simple reason that person of interest is not in custody.
"You can't arrest somebody or take them into custody unless you have reason to believe that a crime was committed and that they committed that crime," said Benjamin. "The fact that you are the last person known to have been seen with someone doesn't mean that they have anything to do with the investigation. It is not probable cause."
Benjamin was encouraged to see police executing a search warrant and removing several bags of evidence from the home of that person of interest.
"Believe me," said Benjamin. "I've worked with this department. They know what they are doing."
Police are determined to do their due diligence.
"That's our goal," said Chief Longo. "Not to put together a case that's just going to result in an arrest, but to make an arrest that will lead to a conviction."
Charlottesville police not only searched the man's home at the Hessian Hills apartments on Friday but they also seized the car he was driving. However they have not located the missing Northern Virginia teen.
Police say they are still aware of his location and while they are not releasing his name. Call the Charlottesville Police tip line at (434) 295-3851 if you have information.