Timeline: Landfill site to be searched in hunt for RAF Honington serviceman Corrie McKeague
PUBLISHED: 14:16 10 February 2017 | UPDATED: 17:11 10 February 2017
A vast area of landfill in Cambridgeshire will be searched for any sign of Corrie McKeague, who went missing more than four months ago from Bury St Edmunds.
Police will be carrying out the search at a landfill site near Milton as part of ongoing enquiries to try to discover what has happened to missing RAF Regiment medic Corrie McKeague.
Police are investigating a line of enquiry around waste collections from the area Corrie, an RAF Regiment medic, was last seen.
The area is known as ‘the horseshoe’ and is off Brentgovel Street in Bury St Edmunds. Corrie was seen entering the area on CCTV at 3.24am on September 24 2016. He has not been seen since.
CCTV shows a waste lorry made a collection in the area a short time after the last confirmed sighting of Corrie, and the lorry was seized in the early stages of the enquiry for forensic examination.
This did not reveal any traces of him, however the waste collection has been one line of enquiry police have persisted with and kept under constant review.
The area of landfill where waste collected from Bury St Edmunds that morning was deposited has not had further items put onto it since police alerted the site early in the investigation.
Police traced Corrie’s mobile phone from Bury to Barton Mills, near Mildenhall, between the hours of 3.30am and 4.30am on September 24.
The route of the phone and the timings matched that of the waste lorry seen leaving the horseshoe. The phone has never been switched on again, and was not traced to Milton, where the waste lorry went on to.
Detective Superintendent Katie Elliott said; “This is the next logical step in the investigation. Behind the scenes we have been working systematically through the options and we have examined a very broad range of evidence.
“This has involved an extensive examination of CCTV, phone and social media analysis, searches, media appeals, talking to those who had contact with Corrie, investigating his background and social life and tracing those who were out in Bury St Edmunds at the time of the last sighting – 3.25am on Saturday, September 24.
“Preparation work is already underway for the search and this will be progressed as quickly as possible.
“There are some measures that we need to put in place before the full search work starts as, in addition to the pressing need to find Corrie, we also have to consider local residents, site workers and the officers who will be carrying out the job of going through the waste.
“We know that physically searching the site has the potential to cause an increase in odour and we hope residents will understand that we and the site owners have taken this into consideration when making a decision to go ahead with the search.
“However, we also hope they will understand why we are doing this as part of our continuing investigation to find Corrie.
“We need to find him and discover what happened to him.
“While the search may not provide the answers as to what happened it is something we need to do as our investigation continues.”
The landfill search in numbers
• Milton Landfill is a 485,000 square metre site
• They put 263 tonnes of waste to landfill every day
• Police officers will search more than 920 square metres of waste
• They will search down to a depth of eight metres
• The search will take six to ten weeks to complete
• The search will start on Wednesday, February 22
Preparation work is underway and will include building access ways to the area to be searched, carrying out scoping work, and putting appropriate facilities on the site to allow this search to be carried out.
Corrie’s family ‘relieved’ – but waiting by the phone will be ‘horrific’
The landfill search is something many in the public, but also the family of Corrie McKeague have wanted for some time.
Nicola Urquhart, Corrie’s mother, said they were relieved the search is now going to take place, but said the weeks waiting by the phone for any news will be “horrific”.
Corrie’s mother hopes police will learn from son’s disappearance
“On behalf of me and the boys we are really thankful that they are carrying out this search,” she said. “The gratitude to the officers that are actually going to have to undertake this – I really can’t thank them enough for what they are about to do.
“I have nothing but praise for the fact that they are doing this now. It is a massive task and I am so appreciative of what they are about to do for us.”
She added: “It is something that the police have considered from the start. It is such a huge task that they had to ensure that they have ruled out other options first.
“They are still keeping every possibility open, but the public can see it for themselves the landfill is something that needed to be done.”
Speaking about the impact of the search on her and Corrie’s two brothers Darroch and Makeyan, she said: “It is going to be so difficult each day just waiting for any information.
“I have always believed that there is every chance that Corrie could still be out there and he could still be alive right now.
“This is going to be so difficult to try and deal with every single day – as I know what they are looking for.
“We are so relieved in one sense, but it is going to be horrific, for eight weeks possibly, just waiting around for any news.”
Nicola also said she is very grateful to the Milton community, who will have to face the disruption from foul smells.
Thousands of hours of searching since disappearance
Police have been investigating Corrie’s disappearance ever since he was reported missing on Monday, September 26, 2016, but have turned up no answers.
The investigation has involved a systematic examination of the possible options including spending thousands hours going over CCTV from across Bury St Edmunds.
They also carried out phone and social media analysis, searches, media appeal, talking to those who had contact with Corrie, investigating his background and social life and tracing those who were out in Bury at the time of the last sighting.
They have spent thousands of hours searching the vast rural area around Bury, RAF Honington and Barton Mills.
Do you have any information?
Anyone with information about Corrie’s disappearance is asked to call the incident room at Suffolk police on 01473 782019