The mum of missing student Richard Okorogheye today said “my baby’s never coming home” after being told a body found by police divers matched the description of her only child.
Richard, 19, disappeared from his home on March 22 and after days of searching, police frogmen found a body in a pond on Monday.
Although the body has yet to be formally identified, Richard’s mother Evidence Joel revealed that police had informed her the description matched her son, a business and IT undergraduate at Oxford Brookes University.
Community nurse Ms Joel, 39, said: “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.
“We didn’t give up hope but the conclusion is not what we expected.
“Richard is my moon and sun. He is the reason I wake up each morning and breathe.
“I worship the ground he walks on.”
Richard, who suffered from sickle cell disease, left the family home in West London on the evening of March 22, saying that he was going to visit a friend.
But he didn’t take his wallet, jacket or medication.
CCTV footage then captured him getting out of a cab in Loughton, Essex, at 12.39am on Tuesday when he headed off towards Epping Forest.
Police divers later found the body in Wake Valley Pond, in Epping Forest.
His mother had previously told how her son had been “struggling to cope” with the pressures of university.
Ms Joel said he had been shielding during lockdown and only been leaving the house to go to hospital for his regular blood transfusions to cope with his condition.
Richard’s father, Newton Okorogheye, had been critical of the police’s initial response, saying that they had not taken Richard’s disappearance seriously despite his health condition.
Superintendent Danny Gosling, who is leading the investigation, said today: “Our officers, with the assistance from specialist search teams, dogs and horses, and colleagues from Essex Police, have been carrying out extensive searches in Epping Forest since 19-year-old Richard was last seen on CCTV in the area 15 days ago.
“Our specially trained officers continue to support the family as they have done throughout.”