Vance Nwankwo was described by many as a friendly giant. The 25-year-old touched the lives of hundreds during his short time on earth.
Nwankwo’s body was found in a pond near his South Barrington home on Friday. He had been missing since Oct. 30. Nwankwo, who is described as semi-autistic, was last seen leaving a Schaumburg nightclub with a cab driver who took him back home. According to Heidisearchcenter.com, Nwankwo’s keys, cell phone, and wallet were found in his home and one of his shoes was found by his mailbox.
His family and friends are devastated by the discovery of his body.
“He had a community of people who cared about him,” said Victor Nwankwo, Vance’s brother. “He was unique. He had certain deficiencies, but he also had amazing abilities…it’s a huge loss.”
South Barrington Police told ABC7 that foul play is not suspected in this case, but Vance’s family isn’t so sure. Vance was overly trusting of others and some say he could have easily been lured into a dangerous situation.
“No one can say there is no evidence of foul play until the investigation has been completed,” said Vance’s uncle who is a Chicago Police Officer.
An autopsy is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 11 by the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office. The investigation into his death is ongoing.
Friends gathered by the pond where Vance was found Friday evening for a candlelight vigil. Among those who came to pay their respects were members of Vance’s church, Rivers of Restoration in Arlington Heights.
Pastor Bela Megyery said he met Vance when he worked at Jewel-Osco, and instantly befriended him. Over time, Vance became like family.
“We became really good friends. I really loved him,” Megyery said.
Vance began to attend church at Rivers of Restoration and was embraced by the church community. Nearly a dozen church members came to pay their respects to his family Friday evening. Many of them have similar concerns regarding the circumstances of Vance’s death.
Vance was a fisherman and was very comfortable in the water, according to Megyery. Friends and family say it’s very unlikely that he would accidentally drown.
“He was so naive, like a little kid,” said Megyery. “You could lure him to the car with candy.”
Barrington Fire Department officials will not release information regarding the incident at this time. The South Barrington Police Department did not answer their phones.