VDEM leader: Search for Hannah Graham to continue; Charlottesvil - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

VDEM leader: Search for Hannah Graham to continue; Charlottesville to take lead

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (WWBT) - Several agencies across the state are in Charlottesville to help in the search to find Hannah Graham. This weekend will mark one month since the 18 year old was last seen. As the search to find the teenager continues, the focus of that search is now shifting.

The state emergency management leader who had been heading the search is taking a break after 27 days of actively leading those efforts. He's now handing the responsibility over to the city of Charlottesville to take the lead on the search.

On a rainy Friday afternoon, the mood on the University of Virginia campus is just as somber as it was nearly four weeks ago. 

"It is definitely still weighing on us as a community as a whole,” said student Michael Lusco.

Saturday marks one month since anyone has seen or heard from 18 year old Hannah Graham. As her suspected abductor Jesse Matthew sits in jail - the search to find the teen has been steady, though still no sign of Hannah.

"To some level that's a lot of tedious boots on the ground everyday covering ground and I understand after a while that perhaps begins to feel like drudgery. Then again we come back to the motivation and the focus and the drive but if you don't do that, you haven't covered the ground, you don't know. It has to be done. It is a necessary evil. It has to be done,” said Mark Eggeman with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

Late Friday afternoon some 25 officers and firemen from Hampton arrived with k9s, atvs, and dive equipment, at the request of Charlottesville's police department. It comes a day after police announced they recovered the taxi Matthew drove back in 2009, the night Morgan Harrington went missing. The cab was found on a farm.
As some 30 searchers combed the county Friday looking for clues in Hannah's case, leaders are encouraging them to stay energized.

"I would say every day the motivation is we believe that every day is the day. Optimism. We begin the day optimistically and at the end of the day we may feel a little bit deflated or defeated but every day we walk out and say ‘tomorrow is going to be the day'," Eggeman said.

A hope that's still alive on Hannah's campus.

"You can definitely tell that everybody is still talking about it and hoping that she is found,” said Rachel Smith.

There have been investigators from Spotsylvania, Stafford, Pulaski, Hampton, the FBI, Alcohol and Beverage Control, even animal control as well as Charlottesville area officers all helping to find Hannah. An effort that will continue into the weekend.

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