Loved ones raise funeral funds after missing Montgomery man found dead

Published: Jul. 7, 2016 at 2:58 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 7, 2016 at 3:28 AM CDT
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An online fund to raise money for Rickem Samuel's funeral states he "died by the hands of...
An online fund to raise money for Rickem Samuel's funeral states he "died by the hands of someone he trusted." (Source: Go Fund Me)
He was last seen getting into a black car at the Walmart on Eastern Boulevard in Montgomery....
He was last seen getting into a black car at the Walmart on Eastern Boulevard in Montgomery. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Rickem Samuel (Source: Central Alabama CrimeStoppers)
Rickem Samuel (Source: Central Alabama CrimeStoppers)
His co-worker, Nanette Thomas, is also missing. She disappeared April 8th. (Source: Thomas...
His co-worker, Nanette Thomas, is also missing. She disappeared April 8th. (Source: Thomas Family)

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Family and friends are stepping up to help lay a Montgomery man to rest after his disappearance took a tragic turn.

Rickem Samuel went missing three months ago and his body was recently found along a city street.

Now, those close to him are helping raise money for his funeral and shedding light on what they think happened, indicating that he may have been killed by someone he knew and was close to.

The search for the 20-year-old came to an end last week when Samuel's remains were located on South Hopper Street, just a few blocks east of Cramton Bowl.

It was the news his family had been dreading as they try to understand what happened.

"He was real happy the last time I talked to him. He was a joker, just real silly," his mother, Ericka Davis said. "As a parent, I never would have thought this would have come to my home. You never think this will happen to you."

Few details have been released, including who found the body and what led authorities to that area of the city.

Montgomery police are handling the case as a death investigation until they receive autopsy results indicating how Rickem died.

Rickem went missing on April 2, 2016.

Around 1:30 p.m., he was last seen getting into black 4-door Nissan Versa at the Eastern Boulevard Walmart, not far from his home.

"He called a coworker to come pick him up and she said they went and got lunch and did some errands, like to the bank. From there, they went to Walmart and she said he was getting into a black car and that was the last time I heard of anything," his mother said.

His family knew right away that something was wrong when they didn't hear from him and he didn't return home.

"I know my son. He loves his mom and he is going to stay in contact with me so I knew that wasn't my son, period," his mother said.

She reported him missing and family and friends launched a desperate search effort, combing neighborhoods, posting fliers in different cities and sharing information and his photo online.

Relatives helped put up fliers in Atlanta, Birmingham, Wetumpka, and Brewton, where Rickem and his family are originally from. He graduated from Carver High School in 2015 and planned to start welding school in May. He dreamed of one day serving his community as a firefighter.

According to his family, Rickem was currently working at Glovis America, the company responsible for processing vehicles for shipment to Hyundai dealers.

His coworker, Nanette Thomas, also disappeared in early April. She was Rickem's team leader and vanished about a week after Rickem.

Thomas lives at the Eastdale Apartments, on Eastdale Road, not far off of Atlanta Highway.

Her relatives have been desperately trying to reach her, calling, texting and sending her Facebook messages, to no avail.

Her family members were alarmed when they got a call from her employer informing them that she had not been to work in a few days.

They went to her apartment, but she wasn't there. Everything was in order and looked fine inside her home, but relatives knew it was out of character for her to be unreachable and they reported her missing.

"She doesn't like anyone to be worried and for her to be the reason we're all worrying, it just doesn't seem right," said her niece, Patrice Johnson.

Montgomery police say there are no updates in the ongoing search for Thomas.

In the days before Nanette Thomas disappeared, Erika Davis says she came over to help search for Rickem.

"She was very sincere and said Rickem was a well-mannered young man. She helped my family and friends look for him. It breaks my heart to know that she's missing also. It tears me apart," Davis added.

Davis says she still has many unanswered questions about her son's death as the investigation continues.

As for Hopper Street, where her son's body was found, Davis said it was not a familiar location and that she's never been there to visit anyone they know.

Meanwhile, relatives and friends are preparing to say their final goodbyes to Rickem Samuel. They are working to raise money to cover the cost of his funeral. An online fund states Rickem died at "the hands of someone he trusted" and that he will be greatly missed:

Saturday, April 2, 2016, Rickem D. Samuel, the eldest son of mother of two went missing, 3 months later was found deceased. Died by the hands of someone he trusted. Rickem was a dedicated, loving, fun, hard-working young man. He was a helpful son to his mom, Ericka who was a single parent raising not only her boys but her sister children as well. He will be missed by many.

We are Ericka's family & friends who admire the strength that she has displayed through this tough time...she works hard to provide for her children, nieces and nephews. 

We are trying to raise money to cover the costs of his funeral. This price range includes the services at the funeral home, burial in a cemetery, and the installation of a headstone. 

Rickem's mom has lost her sister January and her father September both in 2015 and her son and best friend. I can't imagine the hurt she is feeling... So please again any amount small or large will be greatly appreciated.

Central Alabama CrimeStoppers is offering a reward for information on Rickem Samuel's death. Call 215-STOP with any information on the case.

Copyright 2016 WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.