A body found has been confirmed as missing London student Richard Okorogheye.
The Metropolitan Police announced on Monday that a body had been found in a pond in Epping Forest, Essex, where the 19-year-old was last seen heading on CCTV last month.
This evening the force said Richard’s death is currently being treated as unexplained, but there is no evidence of third party involvement.
Mum Evidence Joel then said she had been informed by police that the description “matches” that of her son, before admitting he “will never come home”.
Richard left his home in Ladbroke Grove, Kensington, in west London, on the evening of March 22.
Police said it is believed he then took a taxi journey from the W2 area of London to a residential street in Loughton.
Have you been affected by this story? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org
Scotland Yard said the death is being treated as unexplained but officers do not believe there was any third-party involvement “at this stage”.
A post mortem took place earlier today and found no evidence of physical trauma or assault.
Detective Superintendent Danny Gosling, Head of the Met’s Central West Public Protection Unit, said, “My deepest sympathies go out to Richard’s family at this incredibly difficult time. This was not the outcome that any of us had hoped for and we will ensure that his grieving family are well-supported by specially trained officers.
“I would like to extend my thanks to the many officers, staff and members of the public who have each played a part in the extensive effort to locate Richard.”
In a statement the Met said: “As a matter of routine, as Richard had been reported missing prior to the discovery of his body, a referral has been made to the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) and to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.”
Richard was captured on CCTV walking alone on Smarts Lane, Loughton, towards Epping Forest, at 12.39am on March 23.
The force said Richard’s phone has not been in use since his disappearance.
Searchers have been scouring woodlands and water in the north-east London area in the weeks since he went missing.
Ms Joel told the Evening Standard: “We thought Richard would be found or would just come home. But he’s not.
“My baby will never come home to his mummy again. I can’t even describe the feeling. He was taken away from me too early. The only child I have. It’s devastating and the last thing I thought I’d hear.”
The Met said on Monday: “This afternoon the Met were informed by colleagues from @EssexPoliceUK that a body had been found in a pond in #EppingForest.
“While enquiries to identify the body continue, the family of missing 19-year-old Richard Okorogheye have been informed.”
Hours later, Ms Joel told My London in a highly emotional call: “Oh God, they said the description matches his, but we’ll go in tomorrow to find out.”
Previously, she had said waiting for information on her son’s whereabouts has been “hell”.
She told The Guardian last week: “Every day is a nightmare for me now.
“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, anything.
“But I can’t”, she said of needing to remain at home in case he made contact.
Richard, who has sickle cell disease, has been isolating during the pandemic and would only leave the house to go to hospital for regular blood transfusions for his condition.
His mum had said she was worried the current cold weather, which could cause her son substantial pain, was a major concern after he didn’t take a jacket when he left home.
Anyone with information that could assist police officers involved in the search should call 101 quoting 21MIS008134.