Hannah Graham: Remains Found Belong to UVa. Student - NBC4 Washington

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Hannah Graham: Remains Found Belong to UVa. Student

Hannah's parents: "The light she radiated can never be extinguished"

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    Remains found in an abandoned property in Albemarle County have been identified as missing U.Va. student Hannah Graham. News4's David Culver and Jackie Bensen report. (Published Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014)

    The remains found Oct. 18 on an abandoned property are those of missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham, the Albemarle County Police Department said Friday.

    The suspect in her disappearance, Jesse L. Matthew, Jr., was charged last month with abduction with attempt to defile Graham, 18.

    "We are devastated by the loss of our beautiful daughter, Hannah," Graham's parents, John and Sue Graham, said in a statement Friday afternoon. "Over recent weeks Hannah has been described by those who know her as bright, witty, thoughtful, loyal and fun to be around. She was all those things and more."

    Graham's parents' statement continued:

    Put simply, Hannah lit up our lives, the lives of our family and the lives of her friends and others who knew her. Although we have lost our precious Hannah, the light she radiated can never be extinguished. We will hold it in our hearts forever and it will help sustain us as we face a painful future without her.

    Graham's family originally lived in England but later moved to the United States; Graham graduated from West Potomac High School in Fairfax County, Virginia in 2013.

    In her second year at UVa., Graham had intended to pursue a career in global public health and wanted to help others, her parents said. They said it is heartbreaking that she'll never get to pursue that dream.

    UVa. President Teresa Sullivan released a statement Friday, noting the 18-year-old "brought immense energy and delight to her learning at the university, [where] she was a source of friendship and joy for so many people."

    Graham's family thanked Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo and other law enforcement agents for their dedication.

    The Albemarle County Police Department announced the medical examiner's results at about 4:40 p.m. Friday, saying on Twitter, "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Graham family & Hannah's friends during this incredibly difficult time."

    Volunteer searchers found the remains at about noon Oct. 18 in an "abandoned property" in the Walnut Creek Park area of Albemarle County, authorities said.

    A day later, investigators interviewed nearby residents, and forensic teams combed the sides of a road for several miles past the site. 

    Authorities are still asking to hear from people who live along Old Lynchburg Road or those who may have any information; the Charlottesville Police Department's tip line remains open at 434-295-3851.

    Matthew's attorney, Jim Camblos, issued a statement Friday, saying the "Carrs (Matthew's family) asked me to convey that they will continue to pray for the Grahams and the Harringtons throughout this ordeal."

    Graham was reported missing after a night out with with friends Sept. 12. She was last seen on surveillance videos from the early morning hours of Sept. 13.

    The videos show her walking unsteadily, and later running, in downtown Charlottesville. She is also shown with a man police have identified as Matthew, who is shown wrapping his arm around Graham. He is also accused of buying her alcohol.

    Investigators believe Matthew, a hospital worker and former taxi driver, acted alone and didn't know Graham before her disappearance.

    Matthew was arrested in Texas two weeks after Graham's disappearance, and was extradited to Virginia, where he remains in custody in the Charlottesville area.

    He is not due for a court appearance in the case until December, but could appear in a Fairfax, Virginia court earlier to face charges in a separate, earlier case.

    Matthew was indicted Monday for attempted capital murder and two other felonies in that case, a 2005 attack on a 26-year-old woman in Fairfax, Virginia.

    Police said the victim was walking home from a grocery store in September 2005 when a man grabbed her and forced her into a wooded area, where he assaulted her. He fled after being startled by another person.

    On Thursday, a Fairfax judge issued a bench warrant to bring Matthew to Northern Virginia to face charges in that case.

    Authorities have previously said DNA evidence links the 2005 Fairfax assault to the murder of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington in fall 2009.

    Harrington disappeared after attending a concert at the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville. Her body was found in January 2010, a little more than five miles from where Graham's body was found Oct. 18.

    No one has been charged in Harrington's murder. But Harrington's parents have been active in searching for Graham, noting the similarities between the two cases.

    "I thought [Graham's disappearance] seemed very similar to Morgan's situation with sort of the question of her maybe being somewhat impaired, someone just picking her up and trying to take care of her," Dan Harrington said earlier this fall.

    Virginia State Police said late last month that they believe they have found a link between Harrington's death and Graham's disappearance.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.