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Police confirm person found dead in van was Columbus mosque leader; death ruled homicide

A missing person report for Mohamed Hassan Adam was filed on Thursday, after he had not been seen since Wednesday.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus police confirmed Sunday the man found dead in a van Friday afternoon is a local mosque leader.

Mohamed Hassan Adam's death was ruled a homicide on Friday.

Members of the Somali community found his body in a van near a wooded area off of Windsor Avenue, west of Joyce Avenue Friday afternoon, police said. He was pronounced dead just after 3:30 p.m.

A missing person report for Adam was filed on Thursday after he had not been seen since Wednesday.

The report said he did not show up to pick up his child from a daycare on Oakland Park Avenue.

Columbus Division of Police Deputy Chief Tim Becker told 10TV at the scene the body matched the description of Adam, but the coroner's office and investigators had to make an official identification and notify next of kin.

It wasn’t until Sunday afternoon that police announced the positive identification.

Days later, Adam's family released a statement, referring to him as "a force of compassion" and a "hero to all who knew him." 

According to his family, Adam made it a point to care for others, establishing a food pantry in Columbus, delivering hot meals to families during the COVID-19 pandemic and more. 

"Imam Mohamed will forever live on in the hearts of those whose lives he touched with his selfless acts and we will work tirelessly to keep his legacy alive," his family's statement reads in part.

Acting Executive Director of the Ohio chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Ohio) Amina Barhumi called Adam "a beloved pillar of the Columbus Somali Muslim community."

"Our entire Ohio Muslim community has suffered a profound and tragic loss. We call on law enforcement to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into the murder of this community leader, husband, and father," Barhumi said.

CAIR-Ohio and its national headquarters also announced a $10,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of who killed Adam.

"We are deeply saddened to get the information that he has been passed away," said Hassan Omar, the president of the Somali Community Association of Ohio.

Omar told 10TV at least 70 people were out looking for Adam across the city since he was reported missing.

"We're going to work with them (police) and Crime Stoppers to make sure those people who committed the crime be brought to justice. Our condolences go out to the family," Omar said.

Omar also said Adam provided guidance and leadership for the Somali youth in Columbus.

"My deepest condolences to the family and friends of Mohamed Hassan Adam. He was a devoted faith leader in the Somali community in Columbus, and his passing leaves a great void.," Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther tweeted.

Columbus police said investigators were aware of Adam's Muslim faith, saying investigators "operated with due care, concern, and respect for the requirements for his faith tradition, while also completing the work necessary to identify and bring to justice those responsible for his death."

Adam's cause of death is under investigation.

His death is the 198th homicide in the city of Columbus in 2021.

If anyone has any information, they are asked to call the Columbus Police Homicide Unit at 614-645-4730 or Central Ohio Crime Stoppers at 614-461-8477.

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