Iowa officials said a body recovered from the Des Moines River during the weekend was that of an 18-year-old who was missing for more than three months.
Abdullah Sharif from Des Moines, Iowa, was located by a kayaker who saw a body submerging near the north bank of the Iowa River on May 2, Des Moines Police Department Sgt. Paul Parizek said in a news release on May 4.
A water rescue team with the Des Moines Fire Department responded to the call, along with support from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and they recovered the body.
“Sadly, today the Polk County Medical Examiners Office identified the body recovered as 18-year-old Des Moines resident Abdullahi ‘Abdi’ Sharif,” police said in a statement.
No traumatic injury was found during the autopsy, according to the statement. Sharif’s cause of death will be released “following a complete examination of autopsy findings.”
“Definitely a very sad moment for everybody involved,” Parizek said. “We were hoping that the longer this went on, chances were greater that we would find him alive somewhere and there’d be some sort of an explanation. This is definitely a sad ending. Not the ending that we wanted.”
Now that Sharif’s body has been found, authorities are going to start an investigation if his death was accidental and find out how he ended up in the river.
“The case is far from closed, we are going to see what we can do to get these answers for the family and for the community, but right now it is a sad tragic ending,” Parizek said.
A GoFundMe page was launched to raise funds to keep Private Investigator Stephanie going. Stephanie worked on the case “day in and out since January” to help the family find answers, and she kept them motivated to get closure.
“It has been incredibly painful, as well as aggravating to be left without the answers we all so badly need,” the page read.
Missing for Months
Sharif was last seen leaving his job at “Target” on Merle Hay Mall on Jan. 17.
The day he went missing he was not scheduled to work, but was just at his job visiting, Parizek said. He texted his mother to pick him up later that evening but his mother couldn’t find him anywhere after she arrived at the location.
Sharif’s family reported him missing the next morning.
Parizek said he thought at the time he went missing it is not unusual for young adults to change their plans last minute, but after investigators started to look closer at Sharif’s history, his personality, they “realized pretty quickly that this was out of his character.”
“He wasn’t the type of kid to be irresponsible and just leave his mom sitting there without letting her know what is going on,” Parizek said.
Police were able to determine via surveillance videos Sharif left the Target store voluntarily. But as the investigation continued, detectives got one question after another. As detectives followed the investigation, every lead led to another question until the point detectives had to involve the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), police said.
Sharif’s disappearance garnered media attention and prompted several searches involving hundreds of volunteers back in January, The Associated Press reported.
“The community started stepping up, we were getting Facebook groups we had a couple of search parties that the family had hosted,” Parizek said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.