A young democratic leader was found dead in Washington DC over the weekend, after family friends and a number of prominent Maryland politicians pleaded for information about his whereabouts.
President of the Young Democrats of Maryland Joseph Kitchen was found dead by police inside his apartment on Sunday night having been missing for nearly a week, his brother Lawrence Ramirez has confirmed.
The 34-year-old was last seen in person on August 8 at Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis, and last seen alive during a Zoom call with colleagues the following Tuesday, according to the Prince George County Police Department.
Police have not yet released any information regarding his death, however Ramirez told the Washington Post that no foul play is suspected.
The discovery of Kitchen’s body came just one day after law enforcement began searching for him.
Kitchen, who also worked as the director of outreach and volunteerism at the Washington School for Girls in Southeast Washington, told the school on Tuesday that he was feeling sick.
Family, friends and colleagues said they never heard from him again from that point onwards.
In the days that followed, Ramirez said his sibling’s phone started going straight to voicemail and that he had not been active on social media, which he deemed unusual.
In late July, just two weeks before he went missing, Kitchen spoke out on Medium about how he’d been ‘struggling’ recently.
‘A few weeks ago I started missing every morning meeting I had,’ he wrote. ‘Not on purpose but I would wake up [I am an early riser] and find myself so sick I could not get out of bed.’
Kitchen said he eventually realized the purported struggle was a sign that his body was ‘telling him to stop’.
He also spoke candidly in the post about how he had been suffering from anxiety regarding his work with the school amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and had recently separated from his partner of six years.
The search to locate him intensified over the weekend, with his family making arrangements to fly from California to Maryland to help look for him.
Maryland Democrats including Attorney General Brian Frosh asked on social media for information about his whereabouts.
The Young Democrats’ group, which is open to registered Democrats who are less than 36 years old, also posted a missing person flyer seeking information for Kitchen’s family.
The group shared the news of his death in a Sunday tweet, writing: ‘We are saddened to learn of the tragic and untimely passing of Joseph Kitchen.
‘Joseph always pushed YDA to live up to its values and was someone who was not satisfied with accepting the status quo. His passion will be deeply missed,’ the statement continued.
The Maryland Democratic Party called him ‘a kind heart that has impacted so many.’
News of his death has drawn an outporting of support from local and state officials.
‘I’m stunned,’ former gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous said. ‘He was such a good public servant and so young.’
‘In everything Joseph did, he advocated for young people,’ Maryland Del. Jazz Lewis, who represents Prince George’s County, said. ‘He was fearless in calling out local, state, federal, and even party leadership if he felt young people weren’t given a fair hand.’
‘I am terribly sad to learn of the loss of Joseph Kitchen,’ added Rep. Jamie Raskin said. ‘This is a brutal time we inhabit and the loss of this wonderful young man will be another dreadful milestone in our age of bitter hardship.’
Ramirez said funeral arrangements will be announced by the family in the coming days.
The Metropolitan Police Department has taken over the investigation into his death.