A body pulled from an Iowa river shortly after it was spotted by kayakers has been identified as a missing teen who vanished from the area in January.
Abdullahi "Abdi" Sharif, 18, was last seen on Jan. 17 at the Merle Hay Mall in Des Moines, according to the Des Moines Police Department. He was last seen at 5:17 pm that evening when surveillance footage captured him in front of a cell phone store located near the Target store where he worked, Des Moines Police Sgt. Paul Parizek previously told Oxygen.com.
Police were called to the banks of the Des Moines River in Des Moines' Prospect Park on Saturday for the report of a dead body, police wrote in a Monday Facebook post. Parizek told KCCI in Des Moines that “kayakers in the water saw what they thought were feet and legs sticking up out of the water.”
Responding officers on the scene “observed what appeared to be a body submerged in the river near the north bank,” police wrote. That body was retrieved and has since been identified as Sharif.
While his cause of death is pending a complete examination of his autopsy, police noted that “there was no traumatic injury observed during autopsy.”
Sharif’s body was discovered about four miles away from the mall he vanished from. When Sharif’s mom had showed up near the Target to pick him up on Jan. 17, he was nowhere to be seen. The teen was reported missing the next day.
Parizek told Oxygen.com in March that Sharif put out a message on Snapchat shortly before he vanished referring to "bad, bad news.” However, investigators haven’t been able to verify what Sharif meant by that. Parizek said that after talking to Sharif’s loved ones regarding breakups or possible suicidal issues, “we weren’t really able to check off any boxes for a bonafide explanation for an 18-year-old kid just walking off.”
While Sharif was not working the night he vanished, it was not unusual for him to hang out at Target or the mall.
Parizek said Sharif’s phone last pinged in an area where Sharif’s phone was powered off a few miles east of the mall.
Sharif's family told KCCI that Sharif was terrified of water.
“Abdi used to be scared about water,” his uncle Ahmed Hashi told the outlet. “He never liked water and he ended up dying in the water, and we don't know what happened. There is so many questions that haven't been answered and we need answers.”
Police have asked the public in their new post to join them “in expressing condolences with Abdi's friends and family.”
Hashi told KCCI that Sharif never got involved with the wrong crowd.
“Abdi was a very loving kid,” he said. “A very happy boy who loved his family. He loved to work and go to school.”
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