Mother of 18-year-old Hassan Aden said she wonders if his Somali nationality affected the investigation into his disappearance.
The family of Hassan Aden buried the 18-year-old on Monday, two days after his body was found under a bridge near the Mississippi River and about two weeks since the high school student went missing.
A cause of death has not yet been determined, but his mother said Aden, a promising soccer player who had a summer of high-level tournaments awaiting him, gave no indication in the days before his disappearance April 23 that anything was wrong.
"The biggest question now is what happened to our son?" said his mother, Diib Muse. "I don't agree that he voluntarily threw himself in the river."
She and other relatives were concerned that Aden's Somali nationality played against him in the official investigation of his disappearance. She said authorities with the Minneapolis Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation seemed to be more concerned that he might have been an Islamic radical who had gone back to Somalia to fight. Authorities checked national borders and told the family that he had not left the country.
A police spokesman on Monday said authorities typically will search a specific address or area if there's evidence that a missing person will be found there, but unless the person is a child, a vulnerable adult or if there's evidence of foul play, police generally won't do extensive searches.
Aden's family and friends organized a 50-person search party on April 28, searching along the Mississippi River and at buildings near the intersection of E. Franklin Avenue and 30th Avenue S., where Aden was last seen by a classmate stepping off a bus.
He lived in Minneapolis' Cedar-Riverside neighborhood and was a student at Higher Ground Academy, a charter school in St. Paul.
Some relatives speculated that academic difficulties may have stressed Aden recently, but school officials were not immediately available to speak on Monday evening.
He was an exceptional winger for his soccer team, loved the professional team Real Madrid and had just completed a grueling weekend of games in the days before his disappearance, said his coach, Farah Osman. "He was a brother to a lot of kids, a good friend," said Osman. "He is somebody who will be missed."
His backpack was found four days ago at the University of Minnesota's Wilson Library, according to family. A Minneapolis police sergeant told family that he plans to review the library's surveillance video to see who put it there.
The Hennepin County medical examiner's office said it could be four to six weeks before they will have a cause of death, according to Aden's mother.
Matt McKinney • 612-217-1747