Heartbroken mother of missing student Richard Okorogheye sobs ‘my baby is never coming home’
The mother of missing student Richard Okorogheye has said ‘my baby will never come home to his mummy again’ after police found a body matching his description.
The body, which is yet to be formally identified, was discovered by Essex Police officers in a large pond in Epping Forest yesterday afternoon, 13 days after the 19-year-old went missing.
Community nurse Evidence Joel, 39, told the Evening Standard: ‘We thought Richard would be found or would just come home. But he’s not. My baby will never come home to his mummy again.
‘I can’t even describe the feeling. He was taken away from me too early. The only child I have. It’s devastating and the last thing I thought I’d hear.’
Today the Metropolitan Police remain at the scene in Epping Forest, where a cordon has been set up around the Wake Valley pond.
Ms Joel said that officers informed her of the news yesterday evening, as investigations remain underway to formally identify the body.
‘Oh God, they said the description matches his, but we’ll go in tomorrow to find out,’ Ms Joel told MyLondon.
Mr Okorogheye has not been seen by his family since 22 March when he left their home in the Ladbroke Grove area of west London
Mr Okorogheye, who has sickle cell disease, left his family home in the Ladbroke Grove area of west London on the evening of March 22, and was reported missing two days later.
He was last seen on CCTV in Loughton, Essex, in the early hours of Tuesday March 23, walking towards Epping Forest. Police divers had previously been seen in a body of water in the woodland.
Metropolitan Police said in a statement last night : ‘On the afternoon of Monday, 5 April, the Met was informed by colleagues from Essex Police that the body of a man had been found in a pond in Epping Forest
‘Enquiries are underway to identify the body. Detectives investigating the disappearance of 19-year-old Richard Okorogheye are aware.
Mr Okorogheye’s mother Evidence Joel previously said the Oxford Brookes University student had spoken of ‘struggling to cope’ with university pressures
Metropolitan Police officers at the scene at the Wake Valley pond in Epping Forest following the discovery of a man’s body. April 6
Metropolitan Police at the scene at Wake Valley pond in Epping Forest following the discovery of a man’s body. Richard Okorogheye’s mother was told the body matches his description
‘Richard’s family are being supported by specially trained officers and kept updated with developments. Officers remain at the scene and enquiries continue.’
Evidence Joel has previously said that her son had spoken of ‘struggling to cope’ with university pressures and had been shielding during the Covid-19 lockdown.
It comes after the mother of missing teenager has said her life is a ‘complete nightmare’ in the wake of her son’s disappearance two weeks ago.
Ms Joel has previously stated she fears that her son may have met someone through PlayStation 5 who ‘gained his trust’.
A body was discovered in a pond in Epping Forest on the fifth day of police searches. The scene at Wake Valley pond in Epping Forest is pictured
Metropolitan Police officers at the scene at the Wake Valley pond car park in Epping Forest. April 6
A large area has been cordoned off by police following the discovery of a body on Monday
Police tape surrounds Wake Valley pond in Epping Forest following the discovery of a man’s body
‘I’m shocked. I’m shocked he even knows where Loughton is, as I don’t even know where that place is,’ she told Sky News.
‘I think he went to meet somebody. Definitely. Richard cannot go there. Especially at that time in the morning … someone was waiting for Richard.’
On Monday morning the Metropolitan Police said the search of Epping Forest woodland was continuing for the fifth day.
Police officers are pictured at Epping Forest after the body was discovered on Monday afternoon
Police divers were deployed and were seen in one of the areas of water in the woodland in north-east London. A body was discovered Monday afternoon.
Speaking to The Guardian in a previous interview, Mr Okorogheye’s mother, Evidence Joel, said waiting for information on her son’s whereabouts had been ‘hell’.
She told the paper: ‘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 makes contact.
A map showing the movements of missing Richard Okorogheye, 19, last seen on CCTV, Loughton, Essex, March 23
The 19-year-old, who has sickle cell disease, was last seen in CCTV footage recorded near Epping Forest the day after his disappearance
Initial police inquiries identified Mr Okorogheye leaving his home address and heading in the direction of Ladbroke Grove at around 8.30pm.