Olanta Wiggins has called hospitals and morgues since March 1 looking for her son, Najee Purnell, 20.

Yesterday, her worst fears were confirmed when he was found dead.

Purnell's body was pulled from the Delaware River about 9:40 a.m. yesterday near Delaware Avenue and Linden Street in Torresdale, said Jeff Moran, a spokesman for the city's Health Department.

He was identified by his family, Moran said.

Police said the body had been found stuck in the mud, approximately 25 feet from a boat ramp.

It's unclear how his body ended up in the water but an autopsy to be completed today will determine the cause of death, Moran said.

Purnell, a graduate of Lankenau High School in Upper Roxborough and an aspiring rap artist, was last seen March 1 at his job at the Cedarbrook Plaza Pathmark, near Easton Road and Cheltenham Avenue in Wyncote, his family and police said.

Purnell's girlfriend of seven years, Shalesa Coleman, 19, filed a missing-person's report with the authorities a day later. Police did not believe Purnell had suffered any misfortune.

Coleman contacted the Daily News to enlist help in the search for her boyfriend.

Police had come up with nothing after checking the area near Purnell's work, the medical examiner's office and area hospitals.

Purnell called Coleman before he left work about 3 p.m. March 1 and told her he would be at the apartment he shares with her in Southwest Philadelphia writing songs, but he never showed.

Purnell's father, Steven, who works for the United States Postal Service in Orlando, Fla., flew in yesterday to look for his son and received a phone call from the medical examiner soon after he landed.

The medical examiner's office told him over the phone that police had just pulled a body fitting his son's description out of the water.

Purnell said that he went to the medical examiner's office and identified his son by the musical-note tattoo on his arm. *