A week after his disappearance, Joseph Kitchen was found dead in D.C.
The leader of the Young Democrats of Maryland was found dead in Washington, D.C., just one day before the Democratic National Convention.
Joseph Kitchen, 34, had been missing since Tuesday, August 11, when colleagues last saw him during a Zoom meeting. No one had seen him in person since August 8, at Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis, Maryland.
Since then, Kitchen's parents had not been able to reach him and Kitchen’s brother, LJay Ramirez, said his phone would go straight to voicemail and that he had not been active on social media, which was very unusual.
“Keep trying to find him…it’s not like my brother to just disappear,” Ramirez said on Saturday to urge people to help him find his brother.
Loved ones searched for Kitchen over the weekend and some of his family members were planning to fly out from California to help with the search. Maryland Democrats such as Attorney General Brian Frosh also took to social media to ask the public for information regarding Kitchen’s whereabouts.
On Sunday, August 16, Prince George’s County police announced that Kitchen’s body had been discovered:
“Mr. Kitchen has been located deceased in Washington, D.C. The Metropolitan Police Department is leading the investigation into his death. The Prince George’s County Police Department offers our condolences to Mr. Kitchen’s family and friends,” Prince George’s County police wrote in a statement.
This was one day after the department asked the public’s help in finding Kitchen. The police have not released any other information about the circumstances of his death.
The news sparked an outburst of support from local and state officials.
"In everything Joseph did, he advocated for young people," said Maryland Delegate Jazz Lewis. "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," Representative 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."
The Young Democrats of America tweeted the news about Kitchen’s passing, saying, “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 group, open to all registered Democrats under the age of 36, posted a missing person flyer that sought information regarding Kitchen’s whereabouts.
The Maryland Democratic party also shared their grievances through social media, tweeting that Kitchen was “a kind heart that has impacted so many.”
Besides working with the Young Democrats, Kitchen also worked as a director of outreach and volunteerism at the Washington School for Girls in southeast D.C.
The Metropolitan Police Department is leading the investigation into Kitchen’s death. If you have any information that may help their investigation, please contact the department.