Police find body in pond in search for missing teenager Richard Okorogheye

A body has been found in the search for missing teenager Richard Okorogheye, police have confirmed this evening.

It comes after weeks of extensive searches for the 19-year-old, including in woodland areas and water across north-east London, where he was last seen.

The body was found in a pond in Epping Forest by Essex Police.

A statement from the Metropolitan Police said: “This afternoon the Met were informed by colleagues from @EssexPoliceUK that a body had been found in a pond in #EppingForest.

“While enquiries to identify the body continue, the family of missing 19-year-old Richard Okorogheye have been informed.”

The student left his family home in the Ladbroke Grove area of west London on the evening of March 22 before being reported missing two days later.

He was last seen on CCTV in Loughton, Essex, in the early hours of March 23 walking towards Epping Forest.

The Met said on Sunday the search of woodland continued for a fourth day but at that stage nothing of relevance to the investigation had been found.

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Mum Evidence Joel said prior to today’s discovery of the body, waiting for information on her son’s whereabouts has been “hell”.

She told The Guardian: “Every day is a nightmare for me now.

“I feel completely helpless. Helpless, and also, sorry to use this word, but I feel useless. Because I want to go out there, to do something to look for him, search for him, anything.

“But I can’t”, she said of needing to remain at home in case he made contact.

She also issued a message to her son, telling him: “Everybody misses you. And we love you very much. We want you home. Please come home.”

Scotland Yard previously said that detectives continue to keep an open mind about the Oxford Brookes University student’s whereabouts.

Initial police inquiries identified Richard, who has sickle cell disease, leaving his home address and heading in the direction of Ladbroke Grove at around 8.30pm on the night he went missing.

In a previously confirmed sighting the following day he was seen boarding the number 23 bus southbound in Ladbroke Grove at 8.44pm.

Police said further inquiries have established that he then took a taxi journey from the W2 area of London to a residential street in Loughton.

He was captured on CCTV walking alone on Smarts Lane, Loughton, towards Epping Forest at 12.39am on Tuesday March 23.

On Thursday, the force said Richard’s phone had not been in use since his disappearance.

Ms Joel previously said that her son had spoken of “struggling to cope” with university pressures and had been shielding during the Covid-19 lockdown.

As someone with sickle cell disease, he would only leave the house to go to hospital for regular blood transfusions for his condition.

She worried the current cold weather, which could cause her son substantial pain, was a major concern after he didn’t take a jacket when he left home.

Ms Joel added she had no idea as to what could have prompted Richard’s disappearance, and called on his online community of friends to contact police if they have any information.

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