Body found in river may be missing NJ woman

Chopper 6 was overhead as police investigated the discovery of a body in the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park. (Inset: Nadirah Ruffin, 19)

April 20, 2011 8:00:59 AM PDT
The body found in the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park on Tuesday may be that of a young mother who vanished during a home invasion in Atlantic City.

Authorities tell Action News they seem pretty confident the body is that of Nadirah Ruffin. They are now just waiting for the medical examiner to make the positive ID.

Ruffin's father and grandfather made a trip to Philadelphia to to try and identify the body, but no definite identification has been released.

Action News spoke with James Leonard, an attorney for the family, on Tuesday night.

"I don't think they've completed the analysis of the body, but from what I've been led to believe, positive ID appears to be a mere formality at this point. It looks like it's going to be Nadirah," Leonard said.

Late Tuesday, FBI agents and authorities from Atlantic City and Atlantic County accompanied Philadelphia police to the scene where the body of a young woman was discovered by a biker just after 10:30 a.m. along the banks of the Schulykill Rver off of Martin Luther King Drive near Montgomery Avenue.

Police say the badly decomposed body of a black female had a handcuff on her left ankle and duct tape around her head and body.

Police say Nadirah Ruffin, the mother of a 4-year-old son, was kidnapped at gunpoint from her cousin's home by several masked intruders around 11:30 p.m. back on March 26th.

Witnesses told Ruffin's mother that the intruders tied up everyone in the home and forced Ruffin out of the home and into an unknown vehicle.

They also told her that Ruffin may have recognized one of the intruders as she pleaded to be let go.

Shortly thereafter, the Newark office of the FBI joined the investigation and announced a $20,000 reward for information that led to an arrest and prosecution.

A source close to the investigation tells Action News says the case has gone from having no suspects or motives to one that is becoming rapidly in focus.

It should be noted, Ruffin, 19, did call out the name of one of her abductors before she disappeared.

The woman was known to have several tattoos including one on the left side of her neck which read "so sweet."

Ruffin graduated from Atlantic City High School in 2009 and worked at the Polo store in the city while taking classes at Atlantic Cape Community College.

Her family has been extremely worried about her safety.

"Clearly, they're devastated. They were hoping this was going to have a different outcome; they were hoping she was going to return home and with the grim news today, that's looking very unlikely," Leonard said.

In addition to the positive ID that has to be made, it still has to be determined who will take jurisdiction of the case since it now involves two states.

It's possible the FBI could be taking over the case.

Both the FBI and Atlantic City authorities will be back out on the scene Wednesday to learn the medical examiner's findings.