Body believed to be Cristian Martinez found in Iowa River

A body was recovered near the east bank of the Iowa River on Saturday afternoon.


Emily Nyberg

A missing persons poster is seen on the corner of South Gilbert and South Linn streets in Iowa City on Sunday, April 16, 2023. 20-year-old Cris Martinez was last seen around 1 a.m. on Saturday.

Sabine Martin, Managing Editor

Iowa City police recovered a body from the Iowa River Saturday afternoon believed to be Cristian Martinez, 20, of Muscatine, who went missing last week.

Martinez was last seen on April 15 at around 1 a.m. near the alley behind Bardot Iowa at 347 S. Gilbert St. Police reported Martinez’s phone died earlier that night and his family couldn’t contact him.

A couple near the east bank of the Iowa River reported that they thought there was a body in the water on Saturday at around 12:04 p.m., Iowa City police reported. The Johnson County Medical Examiner’s Office is working to positively identify the recovered body.

Iowa City police and community groups recently expanded the search for Martinez by looking in local bodies of water, obtaining surveillance footage of the area, and checking Martinez’s phone and bank activity.

Jerry Martinez, Cristian Martinez’s brother, told The Daily Iowan on Tuesday at a candlelit vigil with over 100 people in attendance that his brother was a hardworking individual who always helped others.

This is the fourth body pulled from the Iowa River and surrounding creeks since 2018. In 2020, University of Iowa student David Le was recovered from the Iowa River after he went missing for over a month. Police identified a deceased person in 2019 in Ralston Creek as Jonathan Guerrero. Mohammad Saadi Albaghdadi, who was identified as experiencing homelessness at the time of his death, was found in the Iowa River in 2018 near the Burlington Street Bridge.