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A 20-year-old autistic man who vanished more than 80 days ago from his Scottsdale home was found dead in a Mesa canal, according to authorities.
Najib Monsif’s remains were found at a canal pump station, the Scottsdale Police Department announced on Tuesday.
The tragic discovery brings to a close a “massive” multi-agency hunt for Monsif, who disappeared “without a trace” on Sept. 23.
"We are heartbroken at the development of this case," Aaron Bolin, a public information officer for the Scottsdale Police Department, said during a press conference this week. "It is not the outcome anyone in our community was hoping for. We all hoped Jubi would be found alive in good health in be able to be reunited with family and friends.”
Monsif’s body was recovered from a Central Arizona Project Aqueduct pump station near Power Road and the Red Mountain Loop Freeway, roughly 11 miles away from his family’s house. The remains matched Monsif’s DNA, police say. No signs of foul play were found. An autopsy is pending.
Officials, who suspect that Monsif bypassed a fence and fell into the canal within hours of being reported missing, theorized he later drifted to the location where his remains were discovered.
“There are some gates that lead on to the canal property...this one has a fence that runs along both sides and, over every bridge, there's a gate," Scottsdale Police Detective John Heinzelman explained during the media briefing. "There is a bit of a gap between the two fence panels that are chained together with a chain and a lock. Our theory at this point is that it is possible he could have worked his way between these two fence gates and been able to access the [Central Arizona Project] property.”
According to officials, Monsif vanished shortly after telling family members they’d never see him again, officials said.
“He had made some statements to his family the day before he went missing about how he would never see them again or words to that effect,” Heinzelman added. “The canal that runs right behind Jubi’s house is the extension of that canal is where his remains were ultimately located.”
Police dogs, drones, and search and rescue teams — on foot, horseback, and bicycles — scoured the surrounding desert and canal near the missing autistic man’s home. Surveillance footage of surrounding homes and businesses also failed to provide investigators with any leads.
As the weeks passed, investigators, who said Monsif was a frequent online gamer, also sought and combed through electronic records from the devices and platforms.The Scottsdale Police Department, who were aided by the FBI and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, were flooded with tips, but none proved viable.
Najib Monsif’s family, who confirmed the grim development on social media on Tuesday, have since disputed law enforcement’s findings that foul play wasn’t involved in his disappearance.
“We all know that Jubi could not have ‘squeezed’ himself through a gap opening in a fence [half a mile] away that he’d have to know about previously and walk to in the dark,” Najib’s parents, Najib Monsif Sr. and Rebecca Nold, said in a statement sent to Oxygen.com.
“There’s no indication of foul play because there’s too little left to analyze with any certainty of anything,” his parents stated. “It’s important to note that if Jubi had drowned in the canal his body would have floated to the nearby lock on Shea and been found within 2-5 days.”
The family, who vowed that the “case is not closed,” had previously speculated the autistic man might have been abducted.
“We are relieved that he has not been alive and being held against his will at this time,” the statement added.
“Jubi was a dear light and his light is reflected in everyone who has known him,” Josie Monsif, Najib’s sister, told Oxygen.com in a statement. “He’s touched everyone’s hearts as he did ours. We are honored to have loved him.”
The family is now making funeral arrangements for this weekend.
Najib Monsif will be remembered as a gentle and compassionate “man of few words,” and a “wise soul” who loved children and animals, his family said. The 20-year-old was aslo YouTube fanatic and a “meticulous” Xbox gamer.
“He’s just one of those really special people that you know is just truly a child in his heart and an angel but also carries the wisdom of someone who knows more about life than anyone without special needs ever could,” Josie Monsif also told Oxygen.com in October.
Najib Monsif’s family moved to Arizona from Akron, Ohio approximately 16 years ago due to health problems for which he required ongoing treatment. His sister said he also suffered from an autoimmune disorder.
“From such a young age, my brother struggled with autism and it was always such a big part of my family,” Josie Monsif added. “We all try to lift him up as much as possible so he could get the care he needed and he brought us so close together.”
Hundreds of people attended a candlelit vigil for Najib Monsif on Oct. 2.
The 20-year-old played baseball in the Miracle League of Arizona, an adaptive baseball program for children and adults with special needs.
“We are grateful for the many fun times and laughs we shared together on the baseball field and hope Jubi’s family will continue to visit his friends at our ballpark, like they have during the last few difficult months,” Drew Soicher, a staff program director for the Miracle League of Arizona told Oxygen.com in a statement on Wednesday afternoon.
No further information was released by officials.
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