The father of missing airman Corrie McKeague has spent his birthday handing out leaflets to shoppers in Bury St Edmunds town centre as part of the search for his son.
Martin McKeague, who turned 48 today, was joined at the arc shopping centre by his mum and dad Mary and Oliver McKeague as well as Jake Game, 17, who set up a Facebook group to help publicise the hunt for Corrie.
Martin said: “I would be happy today if someone picked up the phone and gave me an answer to this nightmare.
“Someone has got to have seen something but it’s getting that person to come forward.
“There are just no words. I’m broken. It’s just a nightmare. I just want someone to do the right thing and pick up the phone.”
Corrie, 23, was last seen in Brentgovel Street, Bury, at 3.25am on September 24 after a night out with friends.
I would be happy today if someone picked up the phone and gave me an answer to this nightmare.Martin McKeague
Martin and his parents, who are from Cupar in Fife, believe Corrie’s disappearance involves a third party.
Mary, 69, said: “What I can’t understand is how someone can disappear from that area and not get caught on CCTV so what goes through my mind is that he’s been taken. He either went willingly or he didn’t - someone abducted him. I don’t believe he’s still alive and that’s what’s breaking my heart.
“I know my grandson and if Corrie was out there and still alive he would try to get some message to us. The bank account has never been touched, no phone - that says it all.”
Martin brought his parents to Suffolk on Sunday and they have handed out thousands of leaflets since Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Corrie’s grandparents announced a five-figure reward for information leading to his return.
They praised the support and goodwill of the Bury St Edmunds community.
Mary added: “It’s been fantastic, unbelievable and we really didn’t expect anything like this. The people are so warm and so helpful.”
Martin also spoke highly of Jake for his ongoing help,
“He’s an amazing young man and it’s an honour to have met him,” he said.
He added that he believes Suffolk Police have ‘tried to do everything possible’ to find Corrie.
Yesterday, Corrie’s mum Nicola Urquhart said the police had ‘utterly destroyed’ her confidence that they will find her son.
She said that they have behaved in a way that they’ve ‘utterly destroyed the faith and trust’ she has in them.
Mrs Urquhart, who is a serving police officer herself, added: “I understand about the Government cuts but when it’s your own son this reason is impossible to accept.
“I’ve fully supported the police and continue to do so.
“As a family even though there has been some recent negativity all we want to do is push forward with the positive.”
She has also announced a separate £50,000 reward, which was provided by a local business couple who wish to remain anonymous.
The family have set up phone lines, separate to the police, to take calls from those with information about Corrie’s disappearance. The phone numbers can be viewed at www.findcorrie.co.uk - though police say people should call their incident room on 01473 782019.
Meanwhile, a crowdfunding campaign to hire a private investigator topped its initial £20,000 target in just over 24 hours. The target was then increased to £30,000. Visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/helpfindcorrie.
Assistant Chief Constable Louisa Pepper said she was ‘absolutely confident’ her officers will do ‘everything they can to find Corrie’.
“They are highly skilled, highly professional and they’re determined to find him and understand the circumstances of his disappearance,” she said.
“We are using the similar sort of resources we would put into a murder investigation, we’re putting in search officers, we’re utilising members of the RAF, we’ve got enquiry teams looking at it so we are putting an inordinate amount of resources into finding him.”
Yesterday, the police issued CCTV images of 12 potential witnesses who may hold the key to finding Corrie.
Detective Superintendent Katie Elliott said they had received a small number of calls following the appeal and were working on the information provided to trace and speak to those featured in the CCTV images.
She added: “We would ask that all members of the public pass information to the police via the incident line number – 01473 782019. All calls are answered and recorded, even if you get to an answerphone to leave a message, and they will be prioritised and actioned accordingly, as officers continue the investigation.”