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Police confirm body found in Epping Forest is missing teen, 19, after he vanished two weeks ago

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COPS have today confirmed a body found in a forest pond is that of missing teen Richard Okorogheye, 19, who vanished a fortnight ago.

The Oxford Brookes student disappeared after telling his mum he was “struggling to cope” with lockdown.

🔵 Follow our live blog for the latest Richard Okorogheye updates

Police have today confirmed a body found in a forest pond is that of Richard Okorogheye

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Police have today confirmed a body found in a forest pond is that of Richard OkorogheyeCredit: PA
Cops have been searching for the missing student for two weeks

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Cops have been searching for the missing student for two weeksCredit: Getty
Richard, 19, left his home in London on March 22

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Richard, 19, left his home in London on March 22

On Monday, police said the body of a man had been found in a pond in Epping Forest, Essex.

And they’ve today confirmed Richard’s identity after a post-mortem.

His next of kin have been informed and are being supported by specialist officers.

The tragic teenager’s death is being treated as unexplained and police do not currently believe there was any third-party involvement.

MUM’S HEARTACHE

The cause of Richard’s death is pending as further investigations are carried out, but the postmortem found no evidence of physical trauma or assault.

Richard’s mum sobbed earlier as she told the Evening Standard: “My baby will never come home to his mummy again.”

The teenager was last captured on CCTV walking in the direction of the forest in the early hours of March 23.

Richard, who has sickle cell disease, left his home in Ladbroke Grove, West London on March 22. He was seen walking in Kensington at around 8.40pm before boarding the 23 bus southbound.

Mourners have today laid flowers at Epping Forest after a body was found on Monday in the search for Richard Okorogheye

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Mourners have today laid flowers at Epping Forest after a body was found on Monday in the search for Richard OkorogheyeCredit: Louis Wood News Group Newspapers Ltd
The body found in a pond on Monday has not yet been identified, as family and friends arrived today

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The body found in a pond on Monday has not yet been identified, as family and friends arrived todayCredit: Louis Wood News Group Newspapers Ltd

Police said he travelled on a bus through the capital before taking a taxi to Loughton, Essex.

He was then seen on CCTV walking alone along Smarts Lane towards Epping Forest at 12.39am.

Police search officers, dog units, and specialist police divers scoured the area for five days.

Tragically, a body was found in the forest on Easter Monday.

The teen boarded a bus near his home before finally taking a taxi to Essex

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The teen boarded a bus near his home before finally taking a taxi to EssexCredit: Getty
Richard, pictured with his mum, was seen on CCTV walking alone towards the forest in the early hours of March 23

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Richard, pictured with his mum, was seen on CCTV walking alone towards the forest in the early hours of March 23Credit: BPM
Cops cordoned off Wake Valley pond as part of their investigations

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Cops cordoned off Wake Valley pond as part of their investigationsCredit: PA
Officers continued to search through the forest

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Officers continued to search through the forestCredit: PA

Speaking to reporters outside Scotland Yard on Tuesday, Metropolitan Police Detective Superintendent Danny Gosling said: “Yesterday afternoon we were informed by colleagues from Essex Police that a body had been found in a lake in the Epping Forest area.

“While we wait for formal identification, we have spoken to Richard’s family to update them with this latest development.

“Our specially trained officers remain with the family, as they have done throughout this inquiry.”

Mr Gosling said police remain in the area to carry out further searches as they try to piece together what happened to Richard.

“This is an extensive inquiry, and we are working tirelessly to establish the full circumstances. This includes forensic medical and specialist inquiries, which all take time to complete,” he said.

Richard’s mum Evidence Joel, 39, wept as she told of her devastation today.

“We thought Richard would be found or would just come home,” she said.

“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.

‘MY BABY WILL NEVER COME HOME AGAIN’

“It’s devastating and the last thing I thought I’d hear.”

She said she was going through “hell” in an interview before her son’s body was found.

She told The Guardian: “It’s very difficult. It’s hell.

“Not knowing where Richard is, with his health condition as well, it’s a complete nightmare.

“Every day is a nightmare for me now. The days are going by. Time is ticking and I don’t know what to expect,” she said.

“I feel completely helpless. Helpless, and also, sorry to use this word, but I feel useless.

Mum Evidence Joel, 39, said her life had become 'hell' in a heartbreaking interview before her son's body was found

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Mum Evidence Joel, 39, said her life had become ‘hell’ in a heartbreaking interview before her son’s body was foundCredit: Sky News
Cops searching for the Oxford Brookes student had urged anyone with information to come forward

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Cops searching for the Oxford Brookes student had urged anyone with information to come forwardCredit: Getty
The last time Richard was seen was in the early hours of March 23 as he walked towards the forest

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The last time Richard was seen was in the early hours of March 23 as he walked towards the forestCredit: PA

“Because I want to go out there, to do something to look for him, search for him, anything. But I can’t.”

Speaking on Sky News last week, Ms Joel said she feared Richard had met someone through Playstation 5 who “gained his trust” before he came to harm.

She said: “I’m shocked he even knows where Loughton is, as I don’t even know where that place is.

“I think he went to meet somebody. Definitely. Richard cannot go there.

“Especially at that time in the morning.

“Someone was waiting for Richard.”

She continued: “Definitely, he was talking to someone. Someone that he trusted and was fond of. Maybe the person gave him confidence.

“Somehow knew his aspirations, his interests, so he confided in that person, built confidence and trust.”

Richard had been shielding due to a sickle cell disease since the pandemic took hold last year.

He would only leave the house to go to hospital for regular blood transfusions for his condition.

When he vanished, his mum told Sky News: “It’s my baby, it’s my treasure.

“He’s my oxygen, he’s my crown. He’s everything to me, he’s the reason why I live, the reason I exist.

“Right now I’m empty, there is nothing to look forward to. He’s taken my breath away from me.”

Mum of missing teen Richard Okorogheye fears he met someone online playing PS5



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