Fears are growing that a Royal Air Force (RAF) serviceman who went missing last week may have been kidnapped. His disappearance comes less than three months after an RAF serviceman narrowly avoided being seized by “Middle Eastern” men wielding knives.
Corrie McKeague, 23, was last seen in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, in the early hours of September 24. Over the weekend, searches were carried out along the A134 between the town and RAF Honington, which lies about six miles north.
The search has now been widened, police said, with the RAF, search and rescue, and police helicopters all involved, The Telegraph has reported.
But his mother, Nicola Urquhart, says she fears her son has been abducted. She told the Sunday Times that the possibility of kidnap “has been mentioned by the police and it’s not something they would rule out”.
She added: “It’s looking more and more suspicious as time goes on that they’re not actually finding him. It [kidnapping] is something that they’re thinking of.
“Obviously it is something they’re looking at, but it’s certainly not something they’re shouting about to me.”
McKeague’s sudden disappearance comes less than three months after the attempted kidnap of an RAF serviceman near RAF Marham, which lies about 30 miles north of Bury St Edmunds, by two men of Middle Eastern appearance wielding a knife.
The pair tried to steer the serviceman, who had been out jogging, towards a waiting vehicle but he was able to fight them off and flee.
Two weeks later, in early August, the Army ordered soldiers not to wear their uniforms off base after a car was spotted loitering outside Aldershot Garrison in Hampshire. The British Forces Broadcasting Service reported an attempted abduction of a soldier from outside the base at about 8.15am, although police later denied this.
Mr. McKeague was last seen at about 3.20 am on Saturday, September 24. Although police suspect he may have been in the vicinity of Mildenhall, a small market town which is home to another RAF base, about 15 miles northwest of Bury St Edmunds, between 4.30am and 8am on the same day.
Mobile phone data further shows that his phone travelled between Bury and Barton Mills on the morning of his disappearance, along a route which coincides with that of a bin lorry known to have travelled between the locations at that time.
In a statement, Suffolk Police said: “The weight of the pick-up has been analysed at it appears the weight of the load was under 15kg – so it is not thought that Corrie was with the phone, however searches are being carried out between Bury and Barton Mills.”
Mr McKeague is described as white, 5ft 10ins, of medium build, with short light brown hair, and was wearing a pink Ralph Lauren polo shirt and brown suede Timberland boots at the time of his disappearance. Police are keen to talk to anyone who may have seen or spoken to anyone matching his description in the area at the time.
Chief Inspector Steve Denham of Suffolk Police said: “This behaviour is totally out of character for Corrie and we are very concerned for his welfare.
“We are still examining CCTV in Bury St Edmunds town centre and urging any friends or members of the public who may have seen or spoken to Corrie over the course of the evening of Friday, September 23 and the early hours of Saturday, September 24 in Bury St Edmunds to come forward.
“We are also appealing for people or drivers in the local area or further afield who may have seen him after our last confirmed sighting of him on Brentgovel Street at 3.20am to contact us.”