Richard Okorogheye: Police find body in search for missing student

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Richard OkorogheyeImage source, Okorogheye family
Image caption,
Richard Okorogheye, who has sickle cell disease, left home without his medication

A post-mortem examination is due to be carried out on a body found in Epping Forest by police searching for missing student Richard Okorogheye.

The family of the 19-year-old, who has sickle cell disease, have been spoken to by officers, who are waiting for formal identification.

The Metropolitan Police said the body was discovered in a pond in the woodland.

Det Supt Danny Gosling said Mr Okorogheye's family have been informed.

"This is an extensive inquiry and we are working tirelessly.

"Our officers and specialist search teams and dogs have been carrying out extensive searches since Richard was last seen on CCTV in the area."

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
On Monday, the Met said it had been informed by Essex Police about the body of a man found in a pond

The Oxford Brookes student, who has sickle cell disease, was last seen by his family on 22 March, when he left their home in the Ladbroke Grove area of west London.

Police said he then took a taxi to a residential street in Loughton, Essex, where he was last seen on CCTV in the early hours of the following day, walking towards Epping Forest.

The force previously said Mr Okorogheye's phone had not been in use since his disappearance. He did not take his medication or any money when he left home.

Officers and police dogs were searching the forest for a fifth day when they made the discovery on Monday afternoon.

Mr Okorogheye's mother, Evidence Joel, previously said her son had been "struggling to cope" with his business and IT degree.

As someone with sickle cell disease, Mr Okorogheye would only leave the house to go to hospital for regular blood transfusions for his condition, his family explained.

At the scene

By BBC News correspondent Dan Johnson

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Officers have been seen at the Wake Valley pond in Epping Forest following the discovery

Crime scene tape flutters in the trees around the Wake Valley pond.

A few Met officers stand guard, shivering on a bright, freezing morning. They are supporting their Essex Police colleagues, making sure nobody interferes with any evidence.

There is urgent and important work to do as there is a body to identify and a cause of death to establish.

Detectives must piece together the puzzle of how that person ended up in the pond.

Richard's family and friends are waiting anxiously for answers to those and many other questions.

What drew the 19-year-old student from his home nearly two weeks ago? Why did he travel across London then head for the forest after midnight and was anybody else involved?