Adjust text size

Charlottesville police chief leads emotional, forceful search for missing U-Va. student

September 24, 2014 | Virginia News

News Image The father of a missing University of Virginia sophomore stood before reporters, raising a tiny stuffed rabbit as he pleaded for someone to come forward with information that would locate his daughter, the child whose lifetime of love had worn that bunny from new and white to gray and shabby.

Off to the side, another father stood in uniform Sunday, waiting to make the same appeal with nearly as much passion but much more edge.

Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy J. Longo has pounded the top of lecterns, jabbed the air and fixed steady stares into media cameras since 18-year-old Hannah Graham disappeared Sept. 13. As the search for the missing student is followed nationally and even internationally, it also has drawn attention to the small-town police chief with a bulldog demeanor.

Longo, 51, has scolded members of the public who haven’t called in sightings, because he is certain that some of them saw John Graham’s daughter after she apparently lost her way home after a night out with friends: “Pick. Up. The. Phone.”

He has praised more than a thousand others who have searched and shared tips, embracing them as part of his team: “You rose to the occasion. . . . You stepped up to the plate.”

And in an unusual turn, Longo has publicly named a man who until Tuesday night had not been charged in the disappearance, saying he is the last person to have been seen with Graham before she “vanished off the face of the earth.”

At a news conference Tuesday evening, Longo announced a warrant for Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr., charging him with abduction with intent to defile.

Longo, himself a lawyer, had virtually shouted Matthew’s name in earlier news conferences and welled up with tears when he invoked the pain of any parent missing a daughter. His swings have drawn attention to his passion and his policing — and how he is balancing those pressures on the 11th day with no sign of Graham.

Read the full story...