Richard Okorogheye: Missing student’s mother’s ‘hell’ at feeling ‘useless’ after being told by police to stay at home and not join search

The mother of missing student Richard Okorogheye has said her life has become a “complete nightmare” in the wake of his disappearance.

Mr Okorogheye, who has sickle cell disease, left his family home in the Ladbroke Grove area of west London on the evening of Monday 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.

The Metropolitan Police said the search of woodland continued for a fourth day on Sunday but nothing of relevance to the investigation has been found.

Police divers have been deployed and were seen in one of the bodies of water in the woodland in north-east London.

Speaking to The Guardian, Mr Okorogheye’s mother, Evidence Joel, said waiting for information on her son’s whereabouts has 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.

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

Detectives believe: 

  1. Mr Okorogheye left his family home in the Ladbroke Grove area of Kensington on the evening of Monday, Mar 22
  2. He left his home and headed in the direction of Ladbroke Grove at around 8.30pm.
  3. Mr Okorogheye boarded a 23 bus southbound at 8.44pm. He was wearing all black and had a black satchel bag with a white Adidas logo, worn across his lower back.
  4. The missing teenager then took a taxi from the W2 area of London – which surrounds Hyde Park – to Smarts Lane in Loughton, Essex.
  5. At 12.39am on Tuesday, Mar 23, Mr Okorogheye is seen on CCTV getting out of the taxi and walking towards the area of Nursery Road and Epping Forest. He can be seen checking his phone as he walks. 
  6. On Mar 24, he was reported missing. 

Initial police inquiries identified Mr Okorogheye leaving his home address and heading in the direction of Ladbroke Grove at around 8.30pm.

In a previously confirmed sighting on Monday March 22, Mr Okorogheye was seen boarding the number 23 bus southbound in Ladbroke Grove at 8.44pm.

CCTV footage shows he was wearing all black and had a black satchel bag with a white Adidas logo, worn across his lower back.

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 Mr Okorogheye’s phone has 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, Mr Okorogheye would only leave the house to go to hospital for regular blood transfusions for his condition.

She told The Guardian the current cold weather, which could cause Mr Okorogheye substantial pain, was a major concern.

She said: “”We know he didn’t take a jacket when he went out. That’s really worrying.”

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

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.”

Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101 quoting 21MIS008134.

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