Few Details Released In Drake Student's Death



By Aaron Hepker

DES MOINES - There is a mystery surrounding 19-year-old Benjamin Backstrom's death, and investigators aren't releasing many clues.

The Norwalk teen was found early Tuesday morning on a bridge along Highway 65-69 near Indianola.

Police also towed a car from an area at Summerset State Park just a mile and a half away from the bridge near the Banner Shooting Range.

The Department of Criminal Investigation has not released any other information. Investigators were waiting for autopsy results from the Polk County Medical Examiner to determine the cause of death.

As criminal investigators try to piece together what happened, Drake University is remembering a very bright and popular student.

Photos: Friends Remember Drake Student

Nate Baggett was one of Backstrom's classmates who kneeled down to write a message to his friend outside his dorm.

"Just said your memories live on and the dreams we shared," said Baggett.

Students stopped and stared at the sidewalk in silence, stunned. Ben's father wrote, 'My heart will ache forever, my son, my friend.'

One friend drew his portrait in chalk.

"It looks exactly like him," said Backstrom's close friend Jenn Rinehart.

Therapists counseling students say it's difficult since Ben was so well-liked by everyone.

"You can expect denial, disbelief, depression, anger," said Drake therapist Kirk Bragg.

Counselors suggest students express their grief. They'll have an opportunity to do that Wednesday night at a candlelight vigil at 9:00 in the Morehouse Ballroom on the Drake campus.

Friends said Backstrom seemed worried when he left the Drake campus Saturday to go home to Norwalk. Police are trying to figure out how he ended up near the shooting range Monday night.

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