Corrie McKeague: What we know about the disappearance of the RAF Honington serviceman, last seen in Bury St Edmunds in September 2016
- Credit: Archant
In the months since RAF serviceman Corrie McKeague went missing after a night out in Bury St Edmunds, very little information has come to light.
This is what we know so far, and what you can do to help the police with their enquiries.
Who is Corrie?
Corrie McKeague is a 23-year-old man from Dunfermline, in Fife, Scotland. He was posted to RAF Honington, ten miles north of Bury St Edmunds, three years ago, in October 2013.
He is described as white, 5ft 10ins tall, of medium build, with short light brown hair.
He is a Senior Aircraftman and team medic in RAF Regiment’s 2 Squadron and according to all reports from his family, he was enjoying his time in the services and in Suffolk.
He is the son of Nicola Urquhart, from Dunfermline, and Martin McKeague from Cupar, and has two brothers; Darroch and Makeyan McKeague.
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In January 2017 April Oliver, 21, from Norfolk, emerged as the girlfriend of Corrie. According to the BBC, she discovered she was pregnant in October 2016, a few weeks after Corrie disappeared. His family had previously publicly stated that Corrie was single.
He has a puppy called Louell. He is a French Bulldog/Pug cross who has stayed with Corrie in Honington for the past seven months.
His family said Corrie would do everything to get back to his puppy, who he adored.
He liked to go out in Bury and lived in accommodation on base at RAF Honington.
Timeline of events
Friday September 23: Corrie drove to Bury St Edmunds for a night out with friends. He parked up on Robert Boby Way. He was wearing a distinctive pink Ralph Lauren shirt, with white trousers and brown Timberland boots
Saturday September 24: Corrie separated from his friends in the early hours of Saturday after leaving Flex nightclub, St Andrews Street South
He got takeaway food from his regular place, Pizza Mamma Mia, on St Andrews Street North, where he seemed happy and played rock, paper, scissors with a stranger
1.20am: He then passed a CCTV camera at around 1.20am opposite The Grapes Pub on Brentgovel Street/St Andrews Street. CCTV footage of him eating his food as he passed this camera was later released by Suffolk police. He took a nap for around two hours in the doorway to Hughes Electrical Store (Brentgovel Street/St Johns Street junction)
3.08am: Corrie responded to a message from a friend, forwarding an image to them from his phone. This is last time Corrie used his mobile phone
3.24am: Corrie got up from the doorway and headed past the junction of St Johns Street and down a pathway (towards Cornhill Walk) to a loading/refuse collection area behind the Greggs shop (The Horseshoe area). This is the last confirmed sighting of Corrie. He was never seen leaving this loading area on camera
3.24am to around 4.30am: Police were able to trace Corrie’s mobile phone from Bury to the Barton Mills area, near Mildenhall, at a speed indicating it was in a vehicle
Sunday September 25: No information about Corrie’s whereabouts is known during this time.
Monday September 26: Corrie is reported missing in the afternoon after he does not turn up for duty at RAF Honington
Tuesday September 27: At 4.10am, police make their first media appeal for information, releasing his image to the public.
In later appeals the same day police revealed they believed Corrie may have attempted to walk home to RAF Honington. His car was still parked in Bury.
The police helicopter was called to help search the 10 mile stretch between Bury and the base.
Wednesday September 28: Search teams involving Suffolk police, Suffolk Lowland Search and Rescue (SULSAR) and RAF Police start scouring possible routes between Bury and Honington.
The CCTV footage of Corrie at around 1.20am on Brentgovel Street is also released to the public
Thursday September 29: Police continue to scour CCTV of the town and make renewed appeals for information as search teams continue their efforts.
Friday September 30 to Saturday October 1: A week after Corrie’s disappearance, “anniversary checks” are held in the centre of Bury St Edmunds, with police retracing his steps and speaking to people to see if they remember anything about Corrie.
Sunday October 2: Police say Corrie may have been in the Mildenhall area between 4am and 8.30am on Saturday September 24
Monday October 3: Police say cell data shows Corrie’s mobile phone moves between Bury and Barton Mills on the morning of his disappearance.
The timings of the movement of the phone match that of a bin lorry known to have travelled between the towns at the time. The bin lorry is seized. The phone is not found.
A police press conference is held with Corrie’s mother Nicola Urquhart and his three brothers. Mrs Urquhart thanks the local community for their support and appeals for anyone with any information at all to come forward.
Tuesday October 4: Police appeal for any information to trace Corrie’s phone, a Nokia Lumia 435. His phone is thought to have been in a black PVC leather case which is described as frayed and worn around the edges.
Search teams have continued to scour the area over the previous days.
Wednesday October 5: Police make an appeal for three teenagers thought to be aged 16 to 17 to come forward. They were seen on CCTV behind Cornhill Walk shopping centre in Bury at around 4.20am. It is believed they may have seen Corrie
Thursday October 6: Search teams walk along the A1101 from Icklingham to Fiveways Roundabout, near Barton Mills, Mildenhall, and from the roundabout down the A11 dual carriageway towards Newmarket
The railway line between the Bury train station and Moreton Hall area is also searched.
Friday October 7 to Saturday October 8: Police release a new missing person poster. Corrie’s mother Mrs Urquhart talks to press in a series of face-to-face interviews. She reveals she has not given up hope of Corrie being found alive and states categorically that Corrie has not run away or decided to go missing.
Two week “anniversary checks” are carried out in Bury, with police setting up a mobile incident room to show stills of the three witnesses spotted on CCTV who are being sought by police. They carry out inquiries until the early hours of Saturday.
On Saturday, during the busy market, volunteers from across Bury go out to hand out leaflets and put posters up across the town and in shop windows.
Sunday October 9: The three young witnesses spotted on CCTV behind Cornhill Walk come forward. Police announce they will be interviewed as witnesses.
Renewed appeals for information are made as police reveal they need to speak to everyone in the town between 3am and 6am on Saturday September 24.
Corrie’s mother, Mrs Urquhart, also reveals on her Facebook page that police believe Corrie is no longer in Bury St Edmunds and that she believes third party involvement is likely.
Monday October 10: Police reiterate that they are keeping an “open mind” about Corrie’s disappearance as interviews with potential witnesses continue.
Tuesday October 11: Search dog Jack, a border collie, and his handler Dave Forster comb a two-square-mile area near the A134 at Ingham. They are joined by search and rescue veteran Kevin Waterson, founder of the East Anglian branch of the National Search and Rescue Dog Association, who also previously helped with the search for missing April Jones in Wales in 2012 and the hunt for one of serial killer Steve Wright’s victims.
More than 20,000 leaflets and posters have now been handed out by volunteers over the course of one week. The missing person flyers are being coordinated by Cheryl Hickman, of the The Bull Inn at Barton Mills.
A fundraising page in aid of SULSAR’s search for Corrie – which is run on a voluntary basis – passed the £2,000 mark on a crowdfunding page.
Wednesday October 12: Search and rescue teams, including Mr Waterson’s dog unit, comb the area along the A134 near Fornham St Martin.
Thursday October 13: Tyler Watson, the nine-year-old niece of Corrie, writes a heart-rending letter to her missing uncle asking him to come home
Friday October 14 to Saturday October 15: Police make it clear, after speculation on social media, that the body of a man found in Derbyshire is not that of Corrie.
Corrie’s dad, Martin McKeague, speaks to the press for the first time and makes a heart-felt plea for anyone who has any information to come forward.
3.24am on the Saturday marks exactly 21 days since Corrie was last seen.
Throughout Saturday, search teams carry out further checks in the Mildenhall area and along the A1101
Sunday October 16: Celebrity cook Delia Smith helps to publicise the appeal to find Corrie McKeague. She is the first of a number of celebrities to support appeals for information
Monday October 17: Police confirm the three young witnesses traced after being seen on CCTV behind Cornhill Walk shopping centre have all now been spoken to. They had no significant information and were unable to confirm any clue as to where Corrie went after 3.24am September 24.
Thursday October 20: Corrie’s mother Nicola Urquhart makes two national TV appearances to appeal for information. She is interviewed on the Good Morning Britain show on ITV 1 and the Victoria Derbyshire Show on BBC 2. These appeals form part of an ever widening police publicity strategy, as nearly four weeks pass with no new leads.
A tip off from Facebook group Help Find Missing Corrie McKeague lead police to investigate an abandoned van in Methwold, Norfolk. This is later ruled out forensically.
Friday October 21: Police release the CCTV footage of Corrie’s last ever sighting. The footage shows Corrie walk down the Brentgovel Street walkway and right, into a refuse and loading area behind shops in Bury St Edmunds. He leaves the camera at 3.24am Saturday, September 24. He does not reappear
October 24: A potential sighting of a man matching Corrie’s description is reported by a driver, who said he saw a man walking near the Hollow Road industrial estate (British Sugar beet factory) on the day Corrie disappeared
November 7: Mrs Urquhart speaks to West Suffolk College, in the hope some of the Bury St Edmunds college’s 4,000 students may know something that could help.
November 15: Part of the A14 near Bury St Edmunds is closed as police react to intelligence suggesting Corrie was seen near the road. A search is conducted
December 6: Corrie’s Grandparents on his father’s side, Mary and Oliver, announce a ten figure reward for information leading to Corrie’s discovery.
December 7: Corrie’s mother Mrs Urquhart offers a £50,000 reward, made possible by an anonymous local business couple. They also launch a fundraising campaign to raise £20,000 to support costs of the family staying in Suffolk while they search for Corrie and the hiring of a private investigator and data analysing team.
Corrie’s mother, a police officer herself, also labels the Suffolk police investigation “incompetent”.
December 8: Nine CCTV images of 10 people in Bury on the night and early morning of Corrie’s disappearance are released. The potential witnesses were the only people seen in the area on CCTV that had not been spoken to by police
December 9: Mrs Urquhart says she has “lost faith” in police over certain elements of their search for her son
December 17: The first search organised by Corrie’s mother takes place in countryside between RAF Honington and Barton Mills. 30 members of the public are enlisted to help, alongside around 60 members of SULSAR.
December 20: A bogus fundraising site is set up, allegedly trying to divert money from SULSAR and from Corrie’s family. The site is under investigation from West Yorkshire Police, but was removed shortly afterwards
December 30: Mrs Urquhart revealed one of her key concerns around the Suffolk police investigation was the failure of the cops to search a series of buildings which start just 20ft from the Horseshoe area where her son was last seen. The buildings, a mixture of residential and commercial, are between Brentgovel Street, St Johns Street and Short Brackland. Some are empty or were empty at the time
January 5: The family announce they have hired the private investigation and data analysing services of McKenzie Intelligence, using some of the more than £50,000 now raised through the JustGiving public appeal
January 9: April Oliver, 21, from Norfolk, emerged as the girlfriend of Corrie. According to the BBC, she discovered she was pregnant in October 2016, a few weeks after Corrie disappeared. His family had previously publicly stated that Corrie was single
January 22: Second public search for Corrie sees 140 people scour rural area near Barton Mills. Nothing is found
January 26/27: The East Anglian Daily Times, working with Mrs Urquhart, poses several key questions about the Corrie case to Suffolk police. The police give largely honest and frank answers in our two part exclusive.
January 29: Mrs Urquhart speaks out in the EADT about several stories in the national newspapers which made “untrue” allegations about the £50,000 raised and Mckenzie Intelligence Services.
January 30: A Freedom of Information request reveals the Corrie case has cost police more than £300,000
February 10: Police announce they will search a landfill site at Milton, Cambs
February 17: The landfill search is delayed by police due to the amount of work required to make the site safe to search
March 1: Suffolk Constabulary arrest a man aged 26 on suspicion of attempting to pervert the course of justice in connection with the investigation. CCTV footage of the two remaining individuals police want to speak to as potential witnesses, seen on foot in the Brentgovel Street ‘horseshoe’ area of Bury St Edmunds around the time of the last confirmed sighting of Corrie, is also released. They also announce the landfill search will take place within seven days. The 26-year-old man was later bailed until April 13 pending further enquiries.
March 7: Police say the significance of the bin collection from the area where Corrie was last seen is greater than first thought after it was discovered to weigh more than 100kg. Initially officers were told it was only around 11kg.
Detective superintendent Katie Elliott said the mistake in reporting the bin lorry’s load had been genuine and “there was no intention to mislead the investigation”. The 26-year-old arrested by police as part of their enquiries will face no further action.
March 24: Police confirm the Health and Safety Executive are investigating alongside officers
April 8: Police conduct the first weekend search of the site in order not to lose any time ahead of the Easter bank holiday break. Temperatures in Cambridge soar to 25C on the Sunday (April 9), making it the hottest day of the year so far. Officers are praised by Corrie’s family for continuing to work in such ‘hellish conditions’.
April 14: The search pauses for the Easter bank holiday weekend. Corrie’s mother Nicola Urquhart thanks everyone who has been searching and says it is time for police and Corrie’s family to ‘recharge’ before searching begins again in earnest.
May 15: Police embark on 11th week of landfill search. It was revealed in the tenth week that the investigation has cost in the region £1million to Suffolk Constabulary.
What can you do to help?
If you have any information, or were out in Bury St Edmunds on the Friday night/Saturday morning, please phone 01473 782019.
You can also phone Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111
Check the Find Corrie Facebook page, run by the family, for updates and any pleas for help with searches or sharing information
You can phone the family’s dedicated tip lines on 07379 333 024, 07379 333 025, 07379 333 027, 07379 333 027 and 07379 333 028