The father of Fife airman Corrie McKeague is to make another heartbreaking trip to Suffolk today (Friday) – a year after his son disappeared.
It was in the early hours of September 24, 2016, that the young gunner vanished after a night out with friends in Bury St Edmunds.
And to mark the tragic anniversary, Suffolk Police are today setting up a manned pod in the town centre in the hope of jogging someone’s memory and finally solving the mystery of Corrie’s whereabouts.
Corrie’s dad Martin, who lives in Cupar, also had to face the heartache of marking his son’s 24th birthday this week.
He and his wife Trisha are returning to the area where they have spent many agonising weeks as the search for Corrie continues.
It’s believed he fell asleep in a bin in Bury St Edmunds and was later dumped in a landfill site at Milton, near Cambridge.
But an exhaustive search of the site turned up nothing, and was halted on July 21. An independent review is currently being carried out into the search so far.
There have been numerous theories about Corrie’s disappearance but Martin believes there is nothing to suggest he was abducted or murdered.
CCTV footage of Corrie’s last movements shows him entering an area of Bury St Edmunds known as the ‘horsehoe’, where there are a number of industrial waste bins.
He was not shown re-emerging, and Martin believes that a Biffa waste lorry picked up the bin in which he was sleeping at around 4.15am.
Corrie’s mobile phone signal was traced to a transfer station some 13 miles away but the waste was deemed to be too light to contain a body.
Crucially, however, it later emerged that the waste had been incorrectly weighed and was much heavier than at first thought.
At over 100kg, it was certainly heavy enough to contain a body.
At that time, a man was arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice but later released without charge after it was deemed to be a genuine error.
The landfill search that followed was unprecedented in scale, as police sifted through over 6500 tonnes of waste. But despite finding items such as newspapers, phones, footwear and clothing deposited around the time that Corrie went missing, none could be linked to him.
When it was decided to call off the search of the landfill cell where Corrie was believed to be, a distraught Martin blocked the entrance with his motorhome.
It was then agreed to leave the cell untouched until the independent review was completed.
“Realistically, the facts are that Corrie’s phone travelled with him in that bin lorry,” said Martin.
“We’re hoping that the review will take us back to the landfill, as that is where I believe he is.
“I also hope that the police presence might trigger something in someone who was out that night.
“I can’t believe we’re still here a year on. We don’t have closure. All I want to do is find my son.”
Detective Superintendent Katie Elliott said: “Our thoughts are with Corrie’s family and friends 12 months on from his disappearance. It is fair to say that a year on from him going missing, we never thought we would be in this position of not yet locating Corrie or establishing exactly what happened to him. We have always wanted to provide answers to Corrie’s family about what happened to him.
“The search for Corrie remains an active investigation.
“We would appeal directly to the public who were out in Bury St Edmunds exactly 12 months ago on the night he went missing and maybe a year on are once again back in the town centre this weekend.
“We would ask the public to call us if they have fresh information that may be of benefit to the investigation. We have deliberately placed the police pod on Brentgovel Street as we know this is the route Corrie took on that evening and hope our presence will jog someone’s memory.
“As we said in July the fact that Corrie wasn’t found at the landfill site during our extensive search remains bitterly disappointing to us. We had compelling information that directed us to this particular area of the landfill site.
“The investigation has been a detailed and methodical one to date and this will continue in the weeks ahead. The East Midlands Special Operations Unit has been commissioned to conduct a detailed review of the investigation to date. The aim of the review is to assist in identifying whether there are any lines of inquiry that could lead to information that would locate Corrie. The review is progressing well and is due to be completed in the next few weeks.
“If it should reveal further lines of enquiry that will help police find Corrie the force will pursue them vigorously.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Major Investigation Team at Suffolk police on 01473 782019 or 101.