The Delaware County District Attorney's Office is investigating the death in Chester of a onetime Bosnian refugee as a homicide, authorities said Tuesday.
The body of Dino Dizdarevic, 26, was found Thursday between two homes in the 900 block of Parker Street. He had been pummeled and strangled, the Medical Examiner's Office said.
Dizdarevic was "viciously beaten" in the back and side of his head, District Attorney Jack Whelan said at a news conference Tuesday, and there were bruises on his face.
Originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dizdarevic fled the conflict in that country with his family in the 1990s and settled in Richmond, Ky. People there embraced the family, and he maintained strong ties after he went to the University of Louisville.
There, he majored in chemical engineering. He graduated last year, and moved to Philadelphia with his boyfriend for a "dream job" at a chemical-engineering firm about eight months ago.
"This was it - this was the start of his life. His family were refugees from Bosnia, and he was getting a life he might have never gotten over there," said Drew Owen, who attended college with Dizdarevic. "And I think he knew that."
On Facebook, friends posted condolences in two languages along with photos and news updates.
The first hint that Dizdarevic was unaccounted for came at 5:45 p.m. Friday, when a friend in Houston posted on Twitter, "Hey #Philadelphia! My friend Dino Dizdarevic has been missing since Wednesday night. If you've seen him, help us!"
Friends described Dizdarevic as exuberant and friendly, who lived life to the fullest and was always laughing and having fun.
"He was a delight to be around," Owen said.
Owen said Dizdarevic had gone to meet someone for drinks Wednesday night and never returned.
Friends and family began to panic when he missed a flight to Kentucky on Thursday - a trip he had been looking forward to, Owen said.
"When I heard he never boarded that flight, I knew something bad had happened," Owen said. "I just didn't know what yet. And then a couple days later, we got the bad news."
In announcing that his office was investigating Dizdarevic's death as a homicide, Whelan said he did not suspect that the killing was a hate crime.
His department has been in contact with Dizdarevic's family in Kentucky, he said.
Whelan said investigators believe that Dizdarevic was unfamiliar with Chester and are looking at a number of social media websites he may have used in the days or hours before his death that may have drawn him there.
Investigators are looking at computer forensics, including a cellphone, for clues, Whelan said.
As for the location of Dizdarevic's body, he said, "We believe where he was found was more than likely the scene of the crime."