Missing Student’s Mum Says Police Told Her ‘We Can’t Find Your Son If You Can’t’
The parents of missing teen Richard Okorogheye say they were told, ‘We can’t find your son if you can’t,’ after reporting his disappearance to the Metropolitan Police.
The 19-year-old, who has sickle cell disease and therefore has been forced to shield throughout the pandemic, told his parents he was going to visit a friend.
It has now been more than a week since Richard has been seen, prompting the Met Police to issue a statement saying they were ‘becoming increasingly concerned’ for the university student’s wellbeing.
However, according his parents, it took six days before police would take his disappearance seriously, despite him being classed as high risk due to his illness.
Richard’s mother, Evidence Joel, told Sky News:
I told a police officer that my son was missing, please help me find him, and she said, ‘if you can’t find your son, how do you expect police officers to find your son for you?’
I was expecting assurance. My son was missing and it broke my heart.
Richard’s mother went on to explain that Richard had been ‘struggling to cope’ with university and shielding throughout the long and gruelling pandemic.
He told her he was going to meet a friend, however he left without his wallet, jacket and medication, despite having previously only left his home for regular blood transfusions for his condition.
Evidence Joel recalled:
All he said to me was, ‘mummy, I’m going to see my friend.’ I trusted him, I had no doubt. I had no reason to ask further questions.’
Working as a nurse, the mum said her son told her he would see her later, so when she returned home from work she cooked him a meal, expecting him to be up in his room.
But, it wasn’t until a locksmith removed the lock on his bedroom door that she discovered he was not in his room, and he had left his wallet and bus pass behind.
His mum said she fears he may have been groomed online while spending so much time alone isolating throughout the pandemic, but said she doesn’t believe Richard would willingly choose not to come home.
‘It’s my baby, it’s my treasure. He’s my oxygen, he’s my crown,’ she said. ‘He’s everything to me, he’s the reason why I live, the reason I exist.’
A spokesperson for Scotland Yard said: ‘The investigation into the disappearance of Richard Okorogheye remains ongoing – his family are being supported by a dedicated family liaison officer while all available resources are being utilised in the search.’
The Met is now urging anyone with any information to come forward, by calling police on 101 quoting 21MIS008134.
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