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Police ask property owners to help search for Hannah Graham

Hannah Graham

CBS affiliate WCAV

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Charlottesville's police chief is asking property owners to check their own land in the ongoing search for missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham, who vanished Sept. 13.

The man suspected of abducting her, Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr., 32, was arrested Wednesday on a beach in Galveston, Texas. He is currently awaiting extradition to Virginia on charges of abduction with intent to defile.

Though Matthew was arrested more than 1,000 miles away, Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo said Thursday that he believes Graham is in the city or the nine surrounding counties. Search crews are moving south of the city to rural areas and farmlands, and Longo urged property owners to search their own parcels and realtors to check vacant properties.

He said that if anyone noticed something out of the ordinary, including unusual tire tracks on their property, not to touch anything and to call the tip line.

Longo said Graham was wearing a shiny, sequined cropped top with black mesh and Capri pants when she disappeared. He also said Graham's iPhone 5S, which has not been located, was in a pink case.

When asked whether property owners should be on the lookout for signs of a deceased person, Longo said he still has hope that Graham is alive.

"I can't lose hope until I have to - until I need to," Longo said. "I have hope, I think Hannah's mom and dad have hope, but we all know as each day goes by, that hope will diminish."

He also urged anyone with knowledge about Jesse Matthew's whereabouts to come forward.

"If someone saw Jesse Matthew on Saturday morning [Sept. 13] anywhere and he was alone, we need to know that information. If he was seen in the weeks following, we need to know. If his demeanor or attitude or personality was different, we need to know that," Longo said.

Police are looking into the possibility that someone could have helped Matthew flee from Charlottesville to Texas, but Longo said police don't have evidence right now to suggest anyone else was involved. He expects Matthew to be transported back to Charlottesville either Friday or Saturday.

Matthew was arrested Wednesday afternoon on a beach in the sparsely populated community of Gilchrist, Texas by Galveston County Sheriff's authorities, Longo said. The capture came less than a full day after police announced they had probable cause to arrest Matthew on charges of abduction with intent to defile Graham.

Authorities had been concerned Matthew would try to cross into Mexico, according to a person familiar with the search for Hannah Graham, who spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the person isn't authorized to publicly discuss the investigation. The town where he was arrested is about 1,260 miles from his home and about a seven-hour drive from the border.

Matthew, 32, declined to challenge his return to Virginia in a very brief court hearing Thursday, where he did not look at the cameras or speak other than to acknowledge his signature.

A deputy responding to a suspicious person report Wednesday found Matthew had pitched a tent on the beach near his car in Gilchrist. Matthew refused to identify himself, but his car's plates gave him away.

Police think the tent had been in the area a day or two, said Galveston County Sheriff Henry Trochesset.

A woman called a local police dispatch number after spotting Matthew, Trochesset said at a press conference Thursday. It wasn't clear whether the woman recognized Matthew from television reports or whether something about his behavior prompted her to call the police.

Three investigators working on the case arrived in Texas and are in the process of analyzing Matthew's car and tent, Trochesset said. So far, he said, Matthew is refusing to speak.

According to the sheriff, there is no evidence to suggest Hannah Graham might be in the Galveston area.

"I know the question has been asked if there's any evidence of the young lady," Trochesset said. "Right now, she is not to be located."

According to authorities, Graham met friends at a restaurant for dinner Sept. 12 before stopping by two parties at off-campus housing units in Charlottesville. Officials said she left the second party alone and sent a text message to a friend saying she was lost.

Surveillance videos showed her walking, and at some points running, past a pub and a service station and then onto the Downtown Mall, a seven-block pedestrian strip where police believe she entered a bar with Matthew.

Police have previously said Matthew was seen on surveillance video walking with Graham on the mall, and they believe she later went to a bar with him and may have been in his car when he left the area.

Anyone with information is urged to call the tip line at 434-295-3851 or email CPDtips@charlottesville.org.