(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) — A man seen following missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham in newly released security footage told police that he was following Graham because she appeared “physically distressed” and he was trying to help her.
The man told police that he stopped following Graham when she met a second man that she seemed to know and put his arm around her, according to police.
The videos that include the man, who has not been publicly identified, is the latest clue in the search for the missing sophomore, who has not been heard from since she texted friends just before 1:20 a.m. Saturday.
The new videos show Graham, 18, walking past an outdoor mall area at 1:06 a.m. and a man in light colored shorts following her. At one point he ducks into a corner and watches her. A second camera shows the same man following Graham a few minutes later, according to police.
The man called into the police tip line hours before the surveillance footage that showed him following Graham was released. He went to the police station at 10:15 p.m. Wednesday.
“Anyone who saw her is a person of interest,” Capt. Gary Pleasants told ABC News. “He saw her and said he was following her, so that’s interesting. But right now we’re seeing him as a cooperative witness.”
Pleasants said there are no suspects or persons of interest in the case yet because “at this moment we still don’t know that there is any” criminal activity that took place. Graham’s mother said on Wednesday that she feared “foul play” was responsible for her daughter’s disappearance.
The man in the video is still in contact with investigators, police said.
“He told police that he was following Ms. Graham as she looked to be somewhat physically distressed and he wanted to make sure she got safely to wherever she was going,” police said in a statement.
Investigators are searching for the second man who the witness alleges spoke to Graham and stopped her as she was walking. The second man is not seen in any of the surveillance footage.
“Soon after [the witness] was following her, he said that a black male came up to her and put his arm around her, stopping her,” the police release states. “Ms. Graham and this black male started speaking and it appeared to the witness that the black male was either known to Ms. Graham or was trying to help her.”
The witness said that when he walked away, Graham and the other man were still talking.
Charlottesville police have called for area businesses to hand over any surveillance footage they have from the night when Graham disappeared in hopes that it could lead to more clues. Pleasants told ABC they received over 80 new tips from the public since releasing four clips of security videos Wednesday.
Graham’s parents, who are British but live in Alexandria, Virginia, have been in Charlottesville during the investigation and the University of Virginia plans to hold a candlelight vigil Thursday night.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
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