Richard Okorogheye: Police continue search in Epping Forest as teenager missing 12 days

Police searching for missing teenager Richard Okorogheye say there has been “no activity” on his mobile phone following his disappearance 12 days ago, as they continue to scour Epping Forest.

The 19-year-old Oxford Brookes University student, who has sickle cell disease, left his family home in the Ladbroke Grove area of Kensington on the evening of 22 March and was reported missing two days later.

Detectives investigating Mr Okorogheye’s disappearance released CCTV footage of his last known sighting in Loughton, Essex, in the early hours of 23 March.

But his phone had not been in use since his disappearance, officers investigating the case said. Police are now examining financial activity.

Specialist search officers, a dog unit and mounted police continued to focus their search in the Epping Forest area on Friday.

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Detective Superintendent Danny Gosling, the head of the Metropolitan Police’s central west public protection unit, said there was no clear reason why Mr Okorogheye travelled to Loughton.

Evidence Joel, Mr Okorogheye’s mother, said her son had never mentioned the town, but that she believed he went there to meet somebody he had met online.

“I think he went to meet somebody, Richard cannot just go there especially at that time in the morning,” she told Sky News on Thursday.

“He went to meet someone, someone was waiting for Richard.”

Det Supt Gosling said residents were likely to notice increased police presence, with door-to-door enquiries and leafletting taking place in the Smarts Lane area. And he urged people to check doorbell cameras and dashcam footage.

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Police search a pond in Epping Forest

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Police search a pond in Epping Forest

(Getty)

He said: “Our search for Richard is continuing at pace today – we are doing all that we can to locate him and bring him home to his family, who miss him dearly.”

He added that several officers had requested to stay with the investigation over the Easter weekend.

Ms Joel previously said 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.

Anyone with information should call police on 101, quoting reference 21MIS008134.

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