CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia (AP) – The owner of a bar where a missing University of Virginia student was last seen with a man charged in her abduction says she could barely walk that night without the man’s support.
Tempo Restaurant owner Brice Cunningham told The Associated Press on Thursday that British-born Hannah Graham appeared to be incapacitated as she walked away with Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr nearly two weeks ago.
Matthew, a 32-year-old operating room technician at the university’s hospital, had been drinking at the bar earlier that night before he encountered the 18-year-old sophomore outside on Charlottesville’s pedestrian Downtown Mall, Cunningham said.
Matthew then briefly re-entered the bar, ordered what credit card records suggest were two beers, and rejoined the teenager outside. The bar’s door monitor told police they walked off with Matthew’s arm around her for support, he said.
Matthew was charged with “abduction with intent to defile” the second-year student after he fled police questioning on Saturday. He made it as far as the Texas beach town of Gilchrist, 1,260 miles (2,027 kilometres) from home and about a seven-hour drive from the border.
Authorities had been concerned he would try to cross into Mexico, according to a person familiar with the search who spoke with the AP on condition of anonymity, for lack of authorisation to publicly discuss the investigation.
“We seem to be the end of the road,” said Galveston County Sheriff Henry Trochesset. “For us, it’s not strange that someone like that would be arrested here.”
The former college football player waived extradition as Virginia authorities arrived to take him back. He was caught the day before when a deputy responding to a suspicious person report found his tent and car.
Matthew refused to identify himself, but his plates gave him away.
“I’m glad this individual is off the streets. If he has done anything wrong to her, or anyone else … Godspeed to her family,” the sheriff said.