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Cause of death determined for Stafford resident who went missing near Alum Spring Park

by | May 21, 2024 | ALLFFP, Fredericksburg, Police and Fire

Darius Appiah, the 22-year-old Stafford resident who vanished mysteriously near Alum Spring Park in January, died of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the Virginia medical examiner’s Central District office confirmed Monday.

Appiah’s parents reported him missing on the evening of Jan. 24, and his locked car was found two days later in a parking lot at Alum Spring. His half-eaten carryout lunch was inside.

An initial two-day search led by law enforcement yielded no answers, and Appiah’s body was ultimately discovered in a Hazel Run creek bed Feb. 3 by a band of volunteers that included relatives and community members alike.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a disease in which the heart muscle becomes thickened, also called hypertrophied. The thickened heart muscle can make it harder for the heart to pump blood.”

Many individuals with the condition experience few, if any symptoms. However, in rare cases, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can cause dangerous irregular heartbeats — known as arrhythmias — or sudden death. The condition is genetic.

The nature of Appiah’s death was natural, according to the medical examiner’s office, and no other information from his autopsy will be released publicly.

A Facebook message to Appiah’s mother Eunice and text messages to a relative seeking comment were not immediately returned. Sarah Morris, a spokesperson for the Fredericksburg Police Department, said that detectives’ investigation revealed no signs of foul play and that there is no evidence suggesting that Appiah was with anyone after he left work on the day of his disappearance.

“The case is being closed at this time,” Morris said.

At a Feb. 8 press conference that drew cable news cameras and reporters from the Washington and Richmond metro areas, Appiah’s parents criticized police-led search efforts, questioning how untrained volunteers needed less than 45 minutes to find his remains.

“I will say this in a very blunt way, they did not treat my son seriously,” said Darius’ father, Maxwell Appiah.

Appiah’s parents — both preachers — described their son as a driven individual who lived according to his Christian faith. Shortly before his disappearance, he had completed a program in UX/UI design through George Washington University, studies he subsidized by working part-time at Value City Furniture.

“He was working on his portfolio so he could start his career,” Eunice Appiah said. “He just had so much hope ahead of him.”

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