The mother and brother of missing airman Corrie McKeague spoke today of how totally out of character it is for him not to contact his close-knit family for so long.
Corrie, 23, who has served with 2Sqn RAF Regiment at Honington for three years, was last seen on CCTV in Brentgovel Street, Bury St Edmunds, at about 3.20am on Saturday September 24.
Corrie’s mum Nicola Urquhart and his brothers Darroch and Makeyan McKeague travelled from Dunfermline, Fife, to see the search efforts and thank the police, RAF and Suffolk Lowland Search and Rescue teams who have been searching for him since he was reported missing last Monday.
At a press conference this afternoon she said: “He’s never done anything like this before. This is not Corrie.
“To give you an idea, he spoke to his brother on the phone four times that day. I was up here the week before to spend time with him. We’re an incredibly close family.”
Darroch said there had been nothing unusual about their last conversation on the Friday.
Asked if Corrie spoke of any problems, Darroch said: “Nothing whatever – if I could have picked a happier conversation between me and him, that was it.”
Corrie is known to walk back to base, regardless of distance, after nights out with friends.
Nicola stressed the friends from the base he went out with last Friday were not responsible for what has happened.
“Corrie does the same thing every time he goes out,” she said. “He will leave absolutely on his own. He will go out for something to eat or something. The boys he was with wouldn’t have been able to stop him – that’s what he did.”
Darroch said: “Corrie was not a boy to plan things – he will go with what happens.”
Nicola added: “That’s usual for him. What’s absolutely out of character is that he wouldn’t contact one of us, his girlfriend, someone from the base.”
She appealed for anyone who thought they had seen him to come forward. She said: “My son has disappeared, so anybody who knows anything, get in touch with Suffolk Police – we want him to come home soon.
“There’s no single piece of corroborating evidence of what’s happened to him. He’s a good looking lad, walking about in a pink shirt – someone must have seen him.”
But she urged people not to start their own searches.
“I understand people want to help, but it has to be managed by the police,” she said. “Check your own garden, your own property, please, but leave the proper searching to the police who know what they’re doing.”
Temporary superintendent for West Suffolk Kim Warner said that as well as the search teams, who had the help of an expert in human behaviour, they had teams of officers going through council and private CCTV as well as specialists making technical inquiries, including on Corrie’s mobile phone.
He said they knew he had used his Nokia Lumia phone in Bury at about 3am on the Saturday. It was then known it moved towards Mildenhall and had ‘pinged’ (identified itself with) the phone mast at Barton Mills at about 8am.
The journey time suggested he had not walked that way but coincided with the journey of a bin lorry, which has been impounded and is being searched, though the phone has not been found.
Darroch said it would not have been unusual for Corrie to hitch hike.
Supt Warner appealed: “There may be a significant witness who would have seen him. I would encourage people to go to our website and look at the CCTV and if something jogs something in their memory, give us a call.”
Police yesterday released pictures of the clothing Corrie wore. To see the pictures click here
If you think you saw Corrie that night, particularly after 3.20am or on routes out of Bury, call the Suffolk Police incident room on 01473 782019.