Police Charge Suspect in Case of Missing University of Virginia Student Hannah Graham

09/24/2014 AT 12:15 PM EDT

As police continue the search for University of Virginia student Hannah Graham, they have charged a man in connection with her Sept. 13 disappearance.

On Tuesday, police charged Jesse Leroy Matthew, Jr. – the last person authorities believe to have been seen with the 18-year-old sophomore in Charlottesville, Virginia – with abduction with intent to defile.

“We reached that point that the Commonwealth felt we had probable cause to seek an arrest warrant,” Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo said during a press conference Tuesday night. "With this charge, Matthew becomes a suspect, charged with a Class 2 felony."

Graham's family reported her missing Sept. 14. Her friends and family have not seen her since early Sept. 13.

On the night Graham vanished, surveillance cameras captured her wandering around Charlottesville at about 12:15 a.m. Longo said in a previous press conference that she may have been under the influence of alcohol and "vulnerable."

Matthew, 32, was seen at about 1 a.m. that night on surveillance tapes, following Graham at a pedestrian shopping mall before putting his arm around her waist.

Eyewitnesses told police that Matthew and Graham went to Tempo, a popular restaurant and bar in Charlottesville, Longo said. He said he believes Matthew left the restaurant with Graham.

Police have been looking for Matthew since Sept. 13, when he voluntarily went to the Charlottesville Police Department. Matthew, who was initially a person of interest in the case, asked for a lawyer and then, through his attorney, declined to answer questions. He was charged with two counts of reckless driving after he sped away from the station, leading officers on a high-speed chase before disappearing.

Armed with a search warrant, police searched Matthew's apartment Friday and then again Monday. Investigators removed "specific" clothing they were looking for in his apartment, Longo said Tuesday morning on CNN’s New Day. The clothing has been sent to a lab for analysis, he said.

"Our investigation is still ongoing," Longo told reporters Tuesday night. "We still have some information that we hope to receive in the next couple of days that is related to our case, so I won't take any of your questions tonight and I won't go into any of these initial details."

But, he added, "Once we have that information, we will be very forthright."

Longo did not say what led to the abduction charge. Police updated the wanted poster for Matthew, who has worked as a patient technician at the medical center on UVA's campus since 2012.

Matthew, who is also known as "LJ," is 6 foot 2 inches tall, 270 lbs. with dreadlocks. Authorities believe he may be driving his sister's 1997 light blue Nissan Sentra with a Virginia license plate, VAC4575.

Matthew has "known associates" in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York, in addition to his home state of Virginia, police said.

A $50,000 reward is being offered for any information leading to Graham's safe return.

Anyone with information regarding Graham's whereabouts should call (434) 295-3851 or 1-800-THE-LOST.

Want more stories like this?

Sign up for our newsletter and other special offers:

sign me up

Thank you for signing up!

blog comments powered by Disqus

From Our Partners