Police in central Virginia have only preliminarily identified remains found yesterday as missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham, but there appears to be little doubt in their minds, reports the Daily Progress. "This, sadly, is now a death investigation," said Albemarle County Police Col. Steve Sellers. The "discovery is a significant development and we have a lot of work ahead of us." He added it was "unlikely we’ll have very much information in the near future and days to come." The remains are being sent to the chief medical examiner's office in Richmond, notes NBC 29.
Previously scheduled searches for Graham were canceled shortly after the remains were spotted just before noon yesterday, and police immediately closed off the surrounding area in rural Albemarle County, leaving local residents—by now quite used to the sight of searchers—shaken. "It’s upsetting, because it hits so close to home," says one woman. Jesse Matthew, who is charged in Graham's disappearance, grew up in the area and "knows this area very well," one neighbor, whose daughter attended high school with Matthew, tells the Daily Progress. Meanwhile, the UVa. community adjusted to the discovery. "I desperately hung onto the hope that she was still alive," says one first-year student. "Now I’m just thinking about her family and friends."