Investigators in St. Paul appear to have a mystery on their hands after a man was found clinging to life with grave injuries on the side of the road, apparently left for dead.
After a number of hit-and-run crashes in the state's capital city, many assumed it may have happened again -- but that may not be the case, and police are asking the public to help them unravel the facts.
Darvez Thomas is in critical condition at Regions Hospital. Family members say he has a broken back, a brain injury and may have suffered a stroke.
"He has some major injuries to the head," friend Jammie Odom told FOX 9 News. "They want to take him off life support."
Thomas was discovered late Sunday night along Larpenteur Avenue East near the intersection of Jackson Street, right on the border of St. Paul and Maplewood. How he got there is unclear.
"A person driving by saw a tennis shoe in the road, and at that point in time, decided to call police to investigate," Sgt. Paul Paulos, with the St. Paul Police Department, explained. "We did find somebody off the side of the road. Does that mean there was a car accident? Does that mean it's an assault?"
Investigators acknowledge this is a bit of a baffling case. When Thomas's body was found on the side of the road, he had significant injuries that led people to believe he was struck by a hit-and-run driver -- but the 32-year-old St. Paul resident had been missing for several days before St. Paul police were able to tell family members he was in the hospital.
Friends told FOX 9 News Thomas and his wife were in between homes, which made it difficult to notify family members he had been severely injured.
"We either think that maybe somebody hit him -- did a hit and run," Odom said. "From what I was told, someone left a red blanket on him. We really don't' know what happened right now."
Odom told Fox 9 News she believes Thomas may have been coming to visit her fiancé, whom she described as his best friend.
"That's where he hung out all the time -- is with us," Odom said. "We're basically like his second family."
So far, no witnesses have come forward to say if they saw what happened, but police urge anyone with information about where Thomas may have been prior to his injuries to give them a call.
"We are currently looking into all means," Paulos said. "What happened moments before? How did this party get there? Why were they there?"
Police urge anyone who may have seen something suspicious in the area on Sunday night to call 651-266-5721.