My heart’s been ripped apart, says mother of Richard Okorogheye

The mother of Richard Okorogheye has spoken of her heart being “ripped apart” after the student’s body was found in a lake in Epping Forest, Essex.

Evidence Joel, a community nurse, said she was “completely hollow and devastated and empty” after police confirmed on Wednesday that the body found on Monday was that of her 19-year-old son.

“Life is already empty, there’s like a cloud just hovering around, it took the sun away from me," sy het gese. “At this moment of time I just want answers as how my son lost his life. I want answers. I desperately need closure.”

Joel, 39, vertel Sky News she had been to the site where her son’s body was found to lay flowers.

“It was a very uncomfortable place to be. I wouldn’t want to be there.

“My son that I know cannot walk into that darkness – no torch, no light. An hour and 30 minutes from where he was last seen. He must have guts to do that. He’s only 19. What could push him to go that far if he wasn’t meeting somebody?”

Richard Okorogheye, a first-year computer science student at Oxford Brookes University, left his family home in the Ladbroke Grove area of west Londen on the evening of 22 March at about 8.30pm.

Police said further inquiries have established that he took a taxi journey from the W2 area of Londen to a residential street in Loughton, Essex.

He was last seen on CCTV in Loughton, walking alone on Smarts Lane towards Epping Forest at 12.39am on Tuesday 23 Maart. He was reported missing the following day.

Maandag, the Metropolitan police said they were informed by Essex police that a body had been found in a lake in Epping Forest. Richard’s death is being treated as unexplained and police do not believe at this stage that there was any third-party involvement or any suspicious activity.

Investigators are still looking at his computer and searching the forest for his shoes, phone and bag.

Richard had been shielding and had left home only to attend hospital appointments. Joel had previously told the Guardian that he had no idea why her son had travelled to Epping Forest, or if he knew anybody in that area. He was a regular PlayStation 5 gamer, and she had appealed to his online friends to contact the police if they had any information.

Police said a referral has been made to the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards and to the Independent Office for Police Conduct “as a matter of routine”, as the student had been reported missing prior to his body being found.

Joel described her son as the “perfect child” and said she was “lucky” to be his mother. “He will always be my baby and I will always be his mother and no one can take that away from me," sy het gese.

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