FREDERICKSBURG FREE PRESS
Darius Appiah loved nature, and seeing as Jan. 24 was a warm winter day following a bitter cold streak, it didn’t surprise his family members one bit that he’d take his lunch to the park.
After leaving his job at Value City Furniture that Wednesday afternoon, Appiah picked up an order from an Afghan restaurant and drove the short distance to Alum Springs Park in Fredericksburg.
“That was the last time [he was seen],” said Freda Brew, who identified Appiah as her grandnephew. “We couldn’t find him again.”
Darius’ car was found in the parking lot at Alum Springs—locked and with his meal half-eaten inside. Appiah’s mother Eunice reported him missing on the evening of Jan. 24, and two days later the Virginia State Police issued a “Critically Missing Adult Alert” for the 22-year-old Stafford resident.
“It was so unusual for Darius not to come home and not to reach out when the mom called or respond to his texts,” Brew said.
The search for Appiah started at the park near the last confirmed sighting, and when efforts renewed on Saturday morning around 9 a.m., his body was found in a section of Hazel Run near the intersection of Lafayette Boulevard and Blue & Gray Parkway, members of Appiah’s family confirmed to the Free Press.
Fredericksburg Police communications officer Sarah Morris said that the investigation was ongoing and that there was no threat to the public, while a crime alert issued around 1 p.m. notified citizens that Alum Springs Park had been closed as a result of the investigation. A phone call seeking comment from the Stafford Sheriff’s Office, the lead investigative agency, was not immediately returned on Saturday afternoon.
The initial police-led search efforts utilized drones and a helicopter, and Appiah’s family enlisted the help of volunteers beginning on Jan. 28 through various online postings. On Saturday morning, approximately two dozen of Appiah’s family members and friends crowded the shoulder on the eastbound side of Blue & Gray Parkway as rescue personnel accessed the creek from the opposite side of the road.
Brew described her grand nephew as “always smiling,” the owner of a regal grin that earned him the nickname “King Darius” from elder family members. Appiah’s generosity also stood out, most recently when his father Maxwell, a pastor, visited the family’s ancestral country of Ghana last year.
“That boy gave so many shoes—almost all of his shoes—to his dad to give to the poor,” Brew said.
Update at 3 p.m.-Fredericksburg Police communications officer Sarah Morris confirmed that a body was recovered from Hazel Run Saturday morning. The body is en route to the coroner’s office for identification and notification of next of kin, Morris said.