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Human remains found in search for Hannah Graham

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Police investigating the disappearance of Hannah Graham, the 18-year-old University of Virginia student who disappeared more than a month ago in Charlottesville, Va., said Saturday that unidentified human remains were found in an abandoned property in Albemarle County, Va.

Albemarle County Police Col. Steve Sellers said a Chesterfield County police search team located the remains in the property around noon Saturday and immediately notified Graham's family. The remains were removed from the location and taken to the state medical examiner for identification, Sellers said.

"This sadly is now a death investigation," Sellers said. "We will not jump to any conclusions regarding today's discovery."

Graham had been missing since Sept. 13, and was last seen at a Charlottesville pub around 12:45 a.m. She was reportedly intoxicated, and police said surveillance video showed her standing in front of the pub, located in a pedestrian mall, then leaving it in a direction opposite her apartment.

At about 1:20 a.m., she sent a text to her friends saying she was lost and trying to find the location of a party. She and an unidentified man were seen having drinks at a bar a short time later.

Graham's family said she "would not disappear" without contacting family and friends.

Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr., a former college football lineman and sometime cab driver, has been arrested and charged with "abduction with intent to defile" in the disappearance. Authorities believe he was the last person seen with Graham. Police say forensic evidence also connects the 32-year-old Charlottesville man to the 2009 slaying of Morgan Harrington, a 20-year-old Virginia Tech student.

Weeks of searching for Graham turned up no clues, despite thousands of tips and a videotaped statement from her parents pleading for any information on her whereabouts. An aerial drone was also sent out to search for Graham in the area where she was said to have disappeared, the first time such a device has been used in a Virginia missing persons case.

Authorities offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to bringing Graham back safely, and more than 3,000 tips in the case came in. Around 1,200 volunteers helped in the search for her in the rural areas around Charlottesville.

Several young women have also disappeared in the Route 29 corridor where Graham was last seen. Harrington as well as Samantha Ann Clarke, 19, also vanished in the same area. Clarke's case is still unsolved. The body of Cassandra Morton, 23, was found in 2009 in a wooded area near Lynchburg, Va. Alexis Murphy disappeared in 2013 in Lovingston, Va. Her body was never found, but Randy Taylor 48, was convicted in her case.

As many as 200 volunteers had signed up to search for Graham Sunday in Walnut Creek Park in Albemarle County. Graham's parents and the Charlotesville Police Department had organized the daylong search.

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