Human bones found in Suffolk river are NOT remains of RAF gunner

Human bones found in Suffolk river are NOT remains of RAF gunner Corrie McKeague, missing airman’s mother says

  • Suffolk Police launched a murder investigation when bones were found in river
  • Nicola Urquhart says police have now ruled out possibility they were her son’s
  • Corrie McKeague, 23, vanished after a night out in Bury St Edmunds in 2016 
  • No trace of the RAF serviceman has ever been found by police officers 
  • The probe into his disappearance was handed to cold case detectives in 2018 

Human bones found inside two bin bags in a Suffolk river are not those of missing airman Corrie McKeague, his mother has said.

Nicola Urquhart said she had been ‘trying to keep a sensible head on’ while police were unable to reassure her that human remains found in the River Stour in Sudbury last Thursday were not her son’s.

But she said Suffolk Police have since contacted her to say that the remains are not Mr McKeague.


Nicola Urquhart (right) has said she has been told by police bones found in the River Stour are not those of her son RAF gunner Corrie McKeague (left) who vanished after a night out in Bury St Edmunds in 2016

Ms Urquhart, writing on the Find Corrie Facebook page, said: ‘We don’t know who this person is, but we do know it’s someone’s son or daughter and they will be devastated.

‘I hope and pray that Suffolk MIT are able to identify who this person is for the family that have been left behind.

‘Please remember though that although I am writing this as Corrie’s mum, and I now know this is not my son, it is a murder investigation, if anybody knows anything, was in the area at the time, has CCTV or dash cam footage please contact Suffolk MIT.’

Mr McKeague, of Dunfermline, Fife, was 23 when he vanished on a night out in Bury St Edmunds, around 16 miles north of Sudbury, on September 24 2016.

He was stationed at RAF Honington and no trace of him has been found.

Suffolk Police said that a post-mortem examination of the bones found in Sudbury was completed on Sunday but ‘was not able to establish any form of identification or cause of death’.

Corrie McKeague was last seen near a bin loading area in Bury St Edmunds in 2016. Police searched a landfill site near Cambridge for his body in March the following year

The force said further tests are now taking place, adding that this will be a ‘lengthy process’.

Expert analysis of the remains is continuing and some initial forensic results have been received, the force said.

Detective Chief Inspector Mike Brown, the Senior Investigating Officer in the Sudbury case, said: ‘Detailed forensic investigations on the remains are continuing and, although progress is being made every day, as we have said previously, this will be a long and painstaking process to complete, as we strive to establish the identity of the victim.’

Officers completing house-to-house inquiries have spoken to the residents of more than 100 properties so far and more than 140 witnesses have come forward to help.

The investigation into Mr McKeague’s disappearance was passed to cold case detectives in 2018.

Suffolk Police said the ‘most likely scenario’ is that Corrie went into a bin which was emptied into a lorry and ended up in the waste process.

It comes after Nicola tweeted a new photo of her missing son yesterday, saying ‘in just one second our lives will never be the same’.    

The bones were discovered in the River Stour and police say a post-mortem examination was not able to establish any form of identification or a cause of death and more tests are needed

Speaking earlier this week, before the possibility the bones could be her son’s was rules out, she told the East Anglian Daily Times: ‘Most times when remains or bodies have been found, the police down in Suffolk have been able to put my mind at rest that it’s not Corrie very quickly.

‘After speaking to me, they’ll be able to tell me that they already think they know who the person is or, for whatever reason, they know it’s not Corrie.

‘Unfortunately, on this occasion, they’ve not been able to do that.

‘So I think the hard thing is that, whether this is Corrie or not, this is somebody’s son or daughter – and it’s whether anybody will ever find out because they might not be able to identify who this person is.’

She added: ‘It’s just about trying to keep a sensible head on, and not letting your head start making things up and thinking a million thoughts.

‘It is really difficult just to wait until you get an answer because there’s as much chance of this not being Corrie as it being Corrie but it’s going to be someone’s son or daughter.

‘It’s just awful.’

Corrie was last seen in a part of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, known as the ‘Horseshoe’ at 3.24am on Saturday, September 24, 2016 – around nine miles from his base at RAF Honington.

He has not been seen since and in October 2018 Suffolk Police said they believed his body was at a landfill site in Cambridgeshire.

Officers said they believed Corrie, who was 23 when he disappeared, climbed into a Biffa bin and fell asleep and was taken to the rubbish tip in Milton.

They reached the conclusion after a meeting with Biffa Head Office, which confirmed the weight of the bin, which was picked up from outside Greggs in the area where Corrie was last seen, weighed 116kg – much higher than bin collection weights from the same place normally.

Suffolk Constabulary are appealing to the public for information after bones were discovered

CCTV of missing RAF serviceman Corrie McKeague in Brentgovel Street in Bury St Edmunds

Suffolk and Norfolk police spent 137 days looking for Corrie at the Milton tip and trawled through more than 7,000 tonnes of rubbish as part of a £2 million investigation into his disappearance.

Officers carried out two separate search operations in 2017 with the first being called off in July and the second resuming in October and lasting approximately six weeks.  

Last year, on the third anniversary of his disappearance, mother Nicola said she accepted her son was dead – but said she hadn’t given up hope of finding his remains.

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