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Restaurant staff: Missing U.Va. student could "barely walk"

Jesse Matthew, left, was arrested Sept. 24, 2014 in connection with the disappearance of missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham, right.

CBS/WTVR

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- The owner of a restaurant where a missing U.Va. student was reportedly last seen said his staff told police the teen could "barely walk" when she left with the man suspected of abducting her.

The account of Hannah Graham's actions the morning she vanished given by Tempo Restaurant owner Brice Cunningham differed slightly from that offered by police. Cunningham told the AP on Thursday that Jesse Leroy Matthew, Jr. briefly entered the bar in the early morning hours of Sept. 13, where credit card records show he ordered what appeared to be two beers before rejoining the teenager outside.

However, Graham "was not seen and she was not served" inside the restaurant, Cunningham said.

An employee then watched them walk off with Matthew's arm around her, Cunningham said. He said that his staff told police Graham could barely walk without support when she left with Matthew.

Police have previously said witnesses saw the two in the restaurant together.

At a press conference Thursday, Charlottesville police chief Tim Longo declined to challenge Cunningham's version but added: "I will tell you we have at least one witness who will put her in that restaurant."

Recorded images showed Graham walking unsteadily and even running at times, past a pub and a service station and then onto the Downtown Mall - a seven-block pedestrian strip including the Tempo Restaurant. That's where she apparently met Matthew, and Longo said Thursday that police have no reason to believe they knew each other beforehand.

Police have said they believe Graham went to the bar with him and may have been in Matthew's car when he left.

Matthew agreed Thursday not to fight his extradition from Texas, where he was arrested the previous day on a charge of abduction with intent to defile Graham. Before turning up on a beach near Galveston, the 32-year-old Matthew was last seen speeding away from police, who had him under surveillance in Charlottesville on Saturday.

Friday afternoon, authorities were transporting Matthew back to Charlottesville, but it wasn't clear when he would arrive, reports CBS affiliate WTVR.

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Hannah Graham

CBS affiliate WCAV

Police said they had probable cause to support the charge against Matthew after twice searching his apartment and gathering evidence they have not described. Police said a crime lab is testing clothing they recovered through search warrants, but they haven't said whose clothing that was.

When Matthew was arrested, he had fashioned a fire pit and had a tent, chair and so many supplies that deputies believed he had been there for several days, reports CBS affiliate KHOU.

The owner of a grocery store told the station Matthew had come into the store and asked questions about the beach before buying bug repellant, a jug filled with water, and leaving.

Police arrested him after receiving a tip from a woman who recognized his mug shot from television.

According to the station, Matthew first gave a false name to police -- identifying himself as George Carr. But when police ran his license plates, they discovered he was wanted in Virginia for Graham's abduction.

Matthew attended Liberty University from 2000 to 2002, said officials with the Lynchburg school founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell. The school's athletics website listed him as a defensive lineman on the football team.

More recently, he volunteered to help coach football at The Covenant School, a private Christian grade school in Charlottesville, where officials said he had passed background and reference checks.

CBS News has confirmed that 12 years ago, when Matthew was a student at Liberty University, he was investigated on a complaint of rape.

No criminal charges were filed, but Matthew was dismissed from Liberty, a football teammate told CBS News. The Christian University has a strict code of conduct.

Though Matthew was arrested more than 1,200 miles away, Longo said Thursday he believes Graham is in Charlottesville or the nine surrounding counties.

"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. We all know, though, how as each day goes by that hope will diminish."

The search for the sophomore from northern Virginia has expanded to rural areas outside the college town of 40,000, Longo said. The Department of Emergency Management, which is coordinating searches by up to six two-person teams every day, estimates the crews have spent 44 hours in the field since a massive search involving more than 1,000 volunteers last weekend.

Longo appealed to land owners to search their properties, and to real estate agents to check vacant houses.

"We still have no idea whatsoever where she is, despite our best efforts," Longo said. "We have an obligation to bring her home, one way or the other. That's what we promised to do."