CRIME
09/19/2014 07:58 pm ET Updated Nov 20, 2014

Hannah Graham Missing: Police Seek 'Person Of Interest' In Hunt For Missing Virginia Student

(Updates throughout with police news conference)

By John Clarke

Sept 19 (Reuters) - Police looking for a missing University of Virginia student have identified a person of interest and searched his car and apartment on Friday in what they said was a "major break" in the case.

Acting on more than 400 tips about missing student Hannah Graham, 18, Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo said officers identified the 32-year-old man, who he said was seen with the teenager on the night she disappeared.

Longo did not name the individual. The police chief said the individual was home when the search warrant was executed, but that officers had no reason to take him into custody.

"When we arrest the person responsible, it's going to be a prosecution that leads to a conviction," Longo said. "It's not going to be just an arrest."

"Let me just say we're interested in him," Longo told a news conference. "We talked to him this morning and we are going to talk to him again."

He said Graham and the man were seen entering Tempo bar in downtown Charlottesville at about 1 a.m. on Saturday morning. They had drinks and left together after 15 minutes, Longo said, driving away in the individual's orange Chrysler coupe.

The car was located at the man's residence on Friday and searched by police, Longo said, which produced enough evidence for probable cause also to search the apartment.

The disappearance of Graham, a sophomore from Alexandria, Virginia, has gripped the college town of 45,000 people about 100 miles southwest of Washington.

A surveillance video showed her on the downtown pedestrian mall, and she sent a text message to friends shortly afterward saying she was lost. New video footage recovered by officers on Friday will also be analyzed, Longo said.

The police chief said he has briefed Hannah's parents, John and Sue Graham, and he said they remained hopeful.

"They're concerned and they're frustrated," Longo said. "But not for one second have I ever discerned that they have lost hope for Hannah."

Graham is white, about 5 feet 11 inches tall, with blue eyes, light brown hair and freckles. She was wearing a metallic black crop top with mesh cut outs and black pants.

More than 800 people have volunteered to take part in a weekend search, state officials say. (Reporting by John Clarke in Washington; Editing by Ian Simpson and Sandra Maler)

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Hannah Elizabeth Graham