The family and friends of Rutgers University honor student Yasir Williams are mourning his death after a preliminary investigation confirmed on Thursday night that he was the unidentified body pulled from a pond in Orange, NJ late last week. Williams first went missing on the evening of Sunday, March 29 and a public search for him began shortly afterward.
According to Acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens, the 21-year-old’s cause of death was a drowning. In an exclusive interview with RLS Media, the family of the third-year college student said that the State Regional Medical Examiners Office stated there was no foul play, though an official statement has not been released and investigations are still ongoing.
Williams, an avid runner who had recently undergone surgery according to his family, left his home around 11:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 29. A police statement obtained by NJ.com said, “He did not have his cell phone on him when he left the house and he was last seen wearing grey sweats, blue, red and grey Nike sneakers, and a yellow hoodie.” His wallet and hoodie were subsequently found in the surrounding area.
In a Facebook Live recording following Williams’ disappearance, the New Jersey native’s brother and father made a desperate appeal for him to return home safely. “He’s a good kid. He always tried to be around people that are doing positive things,” an emotional Roy Williams said of his son. “If you could help me in any kind of way to find him. He’s been missing like a week now and I’m trying to find out his whereabouts, that he’s safe and that he’s okay.” The elder Williams added a message for his son, saying, “I love you. I need you home.”
Williams’ body was pulled from a pond in Orange Park last Saturday. Chaz Epps, a firefighter for the Orange Township City Fire Department described the event as one of his “toughest days as a firefighter to date.” Adding that the discovery was “just tragic all around.”
On Thursday night, RLS reported the young man’s family sent a “heartfelt thank you to everyone who joined the search and expressed their love through social media.” They are asking for privacy at this time but ask for prayers as they grieve.
The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office had not released a statement as of late Thursday night.