The Des Moines Police Department confirmed Monday that a body found in the Des Moines River Saturday is that of 18-year-old Abdullahi “Abdi” Sharif.
On Saturday around 3:10 p.m., authorities found a body submerged near the north bank of the Des Moines River near Prospect Park.
“The kayakers in the water saw what they thought were feet and legs sticking up out of the water,” Des Moines police Sgt. Paul Parizek said.
The body was transported to the Polk County Medical Examiner’s Office and later confirmed to be Sharif.
Sharif was last seen Jan. 17 as he left the Target store at Merle Hay Mall.
For more than three months, his mother tearfully begged for his safe return. She told KCCI that she watched from his Des Moines bedroom window, always holding out hope he would return alive.
“It’s heartbreaking for everyone,” Parizek said. “It’s heartbreaking for the people who donated time to help search.”
Des Moines police said there were no indications of traumatic injuries and that the cause of death is not yet determined.
“We’re going to do everything we can to figure out what brought him into that water,” Parizek said.
Several search parties were organized through hundreds of volunteers looking for Sharif since he disappeared.
Some of those searches started at Prospect Park, where volunteers looked over the Des Moines River area.
Sharif’s phone pinged in that area the day he vanished, but previous searches turned up nothing.
“Mother Nature had her way, and there was no way for anybody to see anything that would’ve indicated he was in the water,” Parizek said.
Parizek said investigators had few clues to go.
A final Snapchat from Abdi said, “he got very bad news.” What the bad news may have been remains unclear.
“There were no findings of any traumatic injury that would’ve occurred prior to his death,” Parizek said. “We’re not looking at this as a violent crime, but we still have a lot of questions that we don’t have answers to just yet.”
Toxicology reports will take several weeks to return and complete the autopsy.
The family and private investigator in the case told KCCI they are heartbroken and plan to speak publicly Tuesday.