Mother's 'nightmare' over missing student Richard Okorogheye

The mother of the missing student Richard Okorogheye has spoken of the “hell” of still waiting for news two weeks after he disappeared, with each passing day becoming harder to bear.

Okorogheye, 19, wat sekelsel-siekte het, has not made contact with his family since leaving home in Ladbroke Grove, west London, at about 8.30pm on Monday 22 Maart.

Polisie continue to search the Epping Forest area, where the Oxford Brookes University student was last seen on CCTV in the early hours of 23 Maart.

Sy ma, Evidence Joel, 39, a community nurse, implored the public to remain vigilant and report any sightings.

“It’s very difficult. It’s hell,” she told the Guardian. “Not knowing where Richard is, with his health condition as well, it’s a complete nightmare.”

Joel has spent sleepless nights and anxious days by the phone waiting for news. “Every day is a nightmare for me now. The days are going by. Time is ticking and I don’t know what to expect," sy het gese.

“I feel completely helpless. Helpless, and also, sorry to use this word, but I feel useless. Because I want to go out there, to do something to look for him, search for him, enigiets. But I can’t,” she said of having to wait at home in case he makes contact.

Okorogheye had been shielding due to his health, which requires him to take tablets daily and to be regularly hydrated. Joel’s fear, and that of Okorogheye’s father, Christian Okorogheye, is that the cold weather risks triggering a health crisis, exposing him to excruciating pain. “We know he didn’t take a jacket when he went out. That’s really worrying," sy het gese.

Replaying events immediately before his disappearance from the home he shares with her, she remains mystified over what precipitated it. “Richard and I have a great relationship. There’s no obvious clue or agitation or anything that could have led to what happened," sy het gese.

The long months spent shielding may have been a factor, sy het gese, with it being especially difficult for a young man of his age. He would only leave the house to visit hospital for regular blood transfusions.

Similarly, as a first-year computer science student having to study online, there was not the face-to-face support from lecturers and tutors. “That could have impacted too,” het sy bygevoeg.

Okorogheye was seen boarding a No 23 bus headed southbound in Ladbroke Grove at 8.44pm on 22 Maart, with CCTV footage showing him dressed all in black and carrying a black satchel with a white Adidas logo, worn across his lower back. He then took a taxi from west London to a residential street in Loughton, and was captured on CCTV walking towards Epping Forest at 12.39am on 23 Maart. There has been no activity on his phone.

His mother said he had never mentioned Loughton or Epping Forest to her. He was regularly on PlayStation and it was possible he may have planned to met someone from that area he knew online. She implored anyone from his online community of friends who might know anything to contact police.

While initially she felt police had been slow to treat his disappearance seriously, she said she was grateful to officers who were working “very hard, every day, with the focus on finding Richard”.

“He was a happy child. I’ve looked back, reflected back, but there’s nothing to obviously show that Richard was unhappy," sy het gese.

In a message to him, sy het gese: “We miss you very much. Everybody misses you. And we love you very much. We want you home. Please come home.”

Describing “my only baby”, sy het gese: “Richard is very focused. He’s intelligent. He’s a gentleman. He’s bright. He’s private. He’s very helpful in the community. If he sees you carrying a bag, he will ask to help you. He will hold doors open for you. He’s kind. He’s understanding.

“The whole community, they love him. Sometimes people ask me: ‘Is he your son? Wow. You’ve got a star.’ I am very proud of him. I would look at him every day and I can’t believe, eintlik, I have raised such a focused and intelligent man.”

A keen basketball player, sy het gese: “He’s six foot and I think he will probably get taller.” He was generous with his time, and academic, she added, saying he often helped out friends with maths and English studies.

Joel, who used to run a nursery, is well known in the local community, which has rallied to support her. “The support has been overwhelming, and a huge comfort” she said. Well-wishers from her local church and from as far afield as Nigeria, the US and Canada had offered Easter prayers for his safe return.

Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101.

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