Suspect in case of missing UVA student Hannah Graham charged with abduction

The suspect in the case of missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham has been charged with abduction with intent to defile, police said Tuesday.

Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo said in a brief evening press conference that an arrest warrant has been issued for Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr., who police believe was the last person seen with the 18-year-old student before she vanished Sept. 13.

“We absolutely are continuing our search for Hannah," Longo said.

Longo did not specify what specific evidence authorities found that lead to the charge.

On Saturday, Matthew, 32, stopped by the Charlottesville police station with several family members and asked for a lawyer, Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo said.

Matthew was provided with an attorney, but left the station after about one hour without offering any information to police. He then went to his grandmother’s house and was seen by officers driving from the home at a high rate of speed, which endangered others and led to the reckless driving charges, according to the police chief.

Virginia State Police officers were conducting surveillance of the vehicle at the time but did not pursue Matthew, a spokeswoman said.

"He has not been seen, that we know of, since Sunday, and we have not heard from him or had any communication of his whereabouts," Capt. Gary Pleasants told "Fox & Friends" on Tuesday.

Matthew, a patient technician in the operating room at the university's medical center, is also being sought on two misdemeanor reckless driving warrants stemming from that incident.

After initial searches of Matthew's car and apartment Friday morning, police returned with a new search warrant to his Charlottesville apartment Monday, city spokeswoman Miriam Dickler said.

The Charlottesville Daily Progress reported that officers left the apartment carrying several items. Pleasants did not identify the items, but said police found what  they were looking for and are testing the items at the state lab.

Pleasants said investigators have questioned Matthew's mother and uncle, who accompanied him to the police station. He added that search crews on Monday covered areas in the southern part of the city that had not previously been searched.

On Monday, the Charlottesville Police Department released a wanted poster of Matthew. It says the 6 foot, 2 inch, 270-pound man was last reported on Sunday as driving his sister's 1997 light blue Nissan Sentra, and notes that he is said to have contacts in Virginia, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.

Police said they have focused on Graham's movements the night of Sept. 12 and into the early morning hours of Sept. 13. Graham, a sophomore from northern Virginia, met friends at a restaurant for dinner, stopped by two parties at off-campus housing units and left the second party alone, police have said.

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 lined with shops and restaurants.

Graham's disappearance has sent a ripple of fear through the quiet college town of Charlottesville. Students have said they've begun walking in pairs at night and are paying closer attention to their surroundings. More than 1,000 volunteers also participated in a weekend search for Hannah Graham, according to authorities.

Graham's parents appeared at a Sunday news conference where her father, John Graham, appealed for anyone with information to call a police tip line.

"This is every parent's worst nightmare," John Graham said. "We need to find out what happened to Hannah and make sure it happens to no one else."

According to family members and police, Graham is an alpine skier and plays the alto saxophone. Organizers of a candlelight vigil last week at the university handed out her favorite candy, Starburst. Longo said he learned from visiting with Graham's parents that the graduate of West Potomac High School earned straight A's six years in a row.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.