CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- The human remains discovered over the weekend on an abandoned property in Albemarle County have been identified as missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham, reports CBS affiliate WTVR.
In a statement issued Friday, University President Teresa Sullivan said, "For Hannah's young life to end so tragically, and for her destiny of promise to be left unfulfilled, is an affront to the sanctity of life and to the natural order of human events."
Graham vanished Sept. 13 after attending two off-campus parties and texting a friend that she was lost. For five weeks, crews combed Charlottesville and the surrounding area looking for any sign of the 18-year-old.
The remains found Saturday were identified after a review by the Virginia Medical Examiner's office. After the discovery, police called off searches for Graham and re-classified the case a death investigation.
In a statement, Graham's parents thanked Charlottesville police chief Timothy Longo, along with those who participated in the searches and provided them support.
"When we first met Chief Longo he promised to find our precious daughter, Hannah, and during five long weeks his resolve to fulfill that promise never wavered," wrote Hannah's parent John and Sue Graham, in a statement. "When we started this journey together we all hoped for a happier ending. Sadly that was not to be, but due to the tenacity and determination of Chief Longo, Hannah is coming home to us and we will be eternally grateful to him for this."
Graham's parents said they were "devastated" by their daughter's loss.
"Put simply, Hannah lit up our lives, the lives of our family and the lives of her friends and others who knew her. Although we have lost our precious Hannah, the light she radiated can never be extinguished."
Police have charged 32-year-old Jesse Matthew, Jr., in Graham's abduction. Police say Matthew, who was taken into custody after he was spotted camping on a beach near Galveston, Texas, was the last person seen with Graham. They say the two were at a bar on Charlottesville's downtown pedestrian mall, and that Graham may have been in his car when he left.
Following the identification, Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney Denise Lunsford said in a statement her office was weighing charges, reports WTVR.
"The focus of the investigation now is to determine what charges will be brought and the appropriate time to make those charges. We are working diligently with local law enforcement on the investigation to ensure that we make the best determination for our community and the Grahams in the pursuit of justice," Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney Denise Lunsford said in a statement.
The remains were discovered less than four miles from a home where Matthew once lived with his mother, reports CBS affiliate WTVR. One of the officials who made the discovery said the remains were found just as he and his team were about to move on to another site.
"We were on our way back to our vehicle and I just decided to keep going," Sgt. Dale Terry of the Chesterfield County Sheriff's Department told WRIC TV. "So we swept a different area and luckily we just came upon what we came upon. ... Divine intervention is the only thing I can think of."
Monday, authorities announced additional charges against Matthew -- the abduction, rape and attempted capital murder of a 26-year-old woman in a Washington, D.C. suburb nearly a decade ago. Police had previously said that on Sept. 24, 2005, a 26-year-old woman was walking home from the grocery store about 10 p.m. on a Saturday night, when her assailant grabbed her from behind, dragged her into a wooded area behind some townhomes, and sexually assaulted her.
The man fled the area when he was startled by a passerby, police said.
Graham's remains were discovered roughly 6 miles from where the body of 20-year-old Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington was found after she vanished after attending a rock concert on the U.Va. campus in 2009. Police have said forensic evidence connects Matthew to Harrington's killing, which in turn is linked by DNA to the 2005 sexual assault in northern Virginia.
In addition to the new attempted capital murder and rape charges, Matthew has been charged with abduction with intent to defile Graham. He is being held in the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail. He has not been charged in the Harrington killing.
A lawyer for Matthew's family said Friday, "our thoughts and prayers go out to the Graham family in their time of bereavement," and that the family will continue to pray for the Grahams and the Harringtons throughout this ordeal."
Several other jurisdictions in Virginia are looking into whether Matthew could be linked to other unsolved murders and disappearances in the state. Matthew was also investigated on complaints of sex assault at two universities he attended, though he was never criminally charged, CBS News reported.
Matthew's attorney has repeatedly refused to discuss his client, and a message on his law office telephone on Monday said he was not taking questions in the case.