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What happened to Najee Purnell?

Monday, November 23, 2009

A grieving father travels hundreds of miles in the hopes of finding answers behind his son's mysterious death.

Stephen Purnell still gets choked up when he talks about his son, Najee.

The 20-year-old lived with his girlfriend in Southwest Philadelphia. He stayed in the city after his father moved to Florida in 2006.

On Sunday, March 1st, Najee went to his job at a store in Cedarbrook Plaza at Easton Road and Cheltenham Avenue in Wyncote.

But at 3:00 p.m. he was told to go home.

"They said they sent him home because he was in no condition to work."

Stephen says he was never able to get a clear answer of "why" Najee wasn't able to work.

After he left the store, his girlfriend says he called her.

"She said that he called and he said that he was on his way home."

But Najee never made it home. His family filed a missing person's report.

In the following days, Stephen says Najee's girlfriend came forward with some new information.

"She said there may have been another girlfriend."

On Friday, March 27th Najee's body was found in the Delaware River near Delaware Avenue and Linden in the city's Torresdale section.

The medical examiner says he had a small amount of marijuana and alcohol in his system and there were no signs of trauma. The cause of death was drowning.

"I think that Najee was drowned somewhere else and put in the river."

Police aren't sure if he fell in the river and drowned or whether foul play was involved.

But no matter what happened a father is still without his son.

"Last thing that you want to have to do is bury your kid."

The family has put together a $5,000 dollar reward for anyone with information that could lead to foul play in Najee's disappearance and subsequent death.

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