140 people join public search for missing RAF medic Corrie McKeague

A man in a white T-shirt and dark bottoms, with short hair, at 3.21am in Cornhill Walk. Image 1.

A man in a white T-shirt and dark bottoms, with short hair, at 3.21am in Cornhill Walk. Image 1. - Credit: Archant

Dogs, search and rescue teams and members of the public combed a vast area of woodland, forest and farmland around Barton Mills yesterday as the hunt for Corrie McKeague continues.

Braving sub-zero temperatures, the 140 volunteers joined Mr McKeague’s mother Nicola Urquhart and his younger brother Darroch on the search.

Search organiser and chairman of Suffolk Lowland Search and Rescue (SULSAR) said they were targeting areas accessible by car, up forestry and farm tracks, based on the theory his body could have been dumped or hidden in the area.

Mr KcKeague went missing from Bury St Edmunds on September 24 last year, with no trace of him seen or confirmed since he was caught on a CCTV camera at 3.24am.

“We all know we are looking for a body,” said Mr King, a veteran of lowland searches.

“The family know we are looking for a body, but it does not make it any easier.

“We want to find Corrie to bring the family closure, but it is also closure for us and the volunteers at SULSAR because he has become a big part of our lives for the past four months. We have put in thousands of hours to try and find him.”

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He confirmed nothing was found today, but thanked everyone who turned out for their efforts.

The lowland rescue community always help each other out. While today was SULSAR’s search, dozens of volunteers from their equivalents in Cambridgeshire, Essex and Norfolk were taking part, arriving in the early hours of Sunday to spend hours searching.

They only stopped when the light got too poor to see at around 5pm today.

The teams were joined by 40 members of the public, five specialist cadaver search dog teams from as far as Yorkshire and Nottingham, an aerial drone team and Suffolk 4x4 Response to drive teams to search sites.

The sites searched, which covered more than six square miles, were all selected due to their accessibility by vehicle.

They were along farm and forestry tracks around Barton Mills, near Mildenhall – the place Mr McKeague’s phone was last turned on at around 4.30am on September 24.

Mr King explained they are operating on the theory Mr McKeague was killed, either after being hit by a car or other means, and then the killer tried to dump the body in the early hours.

The area they searched is vast and ranges from woodland and arable farms to thick forest and thickets. One lowland rescue volunteer said they are not looking for a needle in the haystack; they are still searching for the haystack.

Mr McKeague, aged 23, went missing from the centre of Bury St Edmunds at 3.24am on Saturday, September 24. He was last seen on CCTV on Brentgovel Street.

Originally from Fife, Scotland, he had been posted to RAF Honington as a RAF Regiment medic in 2 Squadron three years ago.

His mother Nicola, a police officer herself, said the efforts of those who turned up were incredible.

“The support is amazing,” she said. “I know if we asked we could have a thousand people down here, but it is all about keeping it manageable. We need to be able to trust the search has been done effectively, so the police can use the information.”

Earlier this month it emerged that Mr McKeague is to become a father, after his pregnant girlfriend April Oliver, 21, from Norfolk, made an appeal for information.