Police searching for missing student Richard Okorogheye are now combing through parts of Essex after new CCTV images showed him walking towards Epping Forest.
Detectives have moved their search to Essex after a new confirmed sighting showed the Oxford Brookes University student, 19, walking alone on Smarts Lane, Loughton, towards Epping Forest at 12.39am on March 23.
Mr Okorogheye is believed to have left his family home in the Ladbroke Grove area of west London on the evening of March 22 and was reported missing two days later.
Police investigating the disappearance of Richard Okorogheye are now searching parts of Essex
The 19-year-old Oxford Brookes University student was spotted on CCTV walking alone on Smarts Lane, Loughton towards Epping Forest at 12.39am on March 23
Specialist search teams, horses and dogs began searching Epping Forest tonight
Officers have begun searches in and around the forest as well as carrying out door-to-door enquiries
Detective Chief Inspector Nicki Beecher, from the from the Met’s Area West Public Protection Unit, said: ‘It has now been nine days since Richard was last seen in person and we remain as committed as ever to locating him and bringing him home to his family.
‘Our officers are working extremely hard to piece together the facts in order to build a picture of Richard’s movements on the evening of Monday, 22 March.
‘Latest information suggests he was last seen in Loughton in Essex and we are now focusing our attention here with specialist search officers from across the Met brought in to assist.
‘Our enquiries also continue in the Ladbroke Grove, W10 area where local officers have been carrying out search patrols and also community patrols to gather information from local residents.
‘I would once again like to renew our appeal to the public for any information which may assist with our enquiries. If you may have seen Richard – particularly in the Loughton area – or have any information at all, please contact police.’
The Met said Mr Okorogheye, who was in his first year of a business and IT degree at Oxford Brookes, left his home and headed in the direction of Ladbroke Grove on March 22 at approximately 8.30pm.
He was seen boarding the 23 southbound bus in Ladbroke Grove at 8.44pm and CCTV footage showed the student wearing an all-black outfit and carrying across his lower back a black satchel-bag featuring a white Adidas logo.
Police said it was unknown at which stop Mr Okorogheye got off the bus.
Mr Okorogheye’s mother, Evidence Joel, previously said her son had spoken of ‘struggling to cope’ with university pressures.
She also said her son, who has sickle cell disease, had been shielding during the Covid-19 pandemic and would only leave the house to go to the hospital for his regular blood transfusions.
Officers have been carrying out door-to-door enquiries and searches of the area after the student was spotted on the residential street (GV of street pictured)
The Metropolitan Police said the 19-year-old (pictured) left his home and headed in the direction of Ladbroke Grove on March 22
Mr Okorogheye was seen boarding the 23 southbound bus in Ladbroke Grove at 8.44pm on March 22
In a new statement on Tuesday, she said: ‘Richard we love you and miss you very much, please can you come home? We aren’t angry at you. We just want to know that you’re okay.
‘For anyone reading this, we are desperately missing our son. If you know anything or know where he might be, please come forward and speak to the police.’
Ms Joel said she had returned home from a nursing shift at around 9pm on March 22 and assumed her son was in his room.
The alarm was raised after a locksmith helped her gain entry to her son’s room where the student’s wallet, bus pass and bank card were found.
This week Ms Joel claimed police said ‘if you can’t find your son, how do you expect us to?’ when she went to them for help.
Ms Joel, a nurse, said when she phoned police to report him missing and suggested they check CCTV near their home she was told they did not have the resources.
CCTV footage showed the student wearing an all-black outfit and carrying across his lower back a black satchel-bag featuring a white Adidas logo
She 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?’
Family friend Claudine Rose added: ‘We just felt like initially, it wasn’t taken seriously enough.
‘His mum was going into the police station every day and they hadn’t put posters up or anything.’
Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101 quoting 21MIS008134, or they can call 999 in an emergency.