For 23-year-old Corrie McKeague, life seemed to be going just as well as anyone could have hoped. He was well-loved by his family, friends, girlfriend, and was living his dream as a gunner for the Royal Air Force. Unfortunately, everything changed in the blink of an eye. On September 24, 2016, on a typical night out with friends at the local bars, Corrie disappeared without a trace. Today, people are still trying to solve the mystery of his disappearance but finding little luck.
Corrie McKeague was born in Perth, Scotland in September 1993 and was raised in Cupar, Fife, until his parents divorced when he was nine years old.
Corrie and his two brothers, Darroch and Makeyan, were then raised by their mother in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland, and attended St. Margarets Primary School in their youth and St. Columba's High School as teenagers. After high school, Corrie would go on to pursue his life-long dream of serving his country.
Joining The Royal Air Force
Earlier in his life, Corrie had aspirations to become a hairstylist, but he decided to train as a fitness instructor at Perth College University instead. However, he had always dreamed of joining the Royal Air Force.
That dream became a reality in 2013 when he joined the RAF Regiment and was posted in No.II Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment based at RAF Honington. There, he served as a Senior Aircraft gunner and medic on the squad.
Everything Seemed To Be Going In The Right Direction
At this point, Corrie had achieved his dream of serving in the Royal Air Force, and everything else in his life appeared to be going nicely. He was successful in his position and had a loving family. In 2016, he also found himself a girlfriend, whom he loved deeply.
On January 21, 2017, his girlfriend, April Oliver, even announced that she was pregnant with Corrie's baby, although neither was aware of the pregnancy at the time of his disappearance.
The Beginning Of A Fateful Night
On the night of September 23, 2016, Corrie went out in the town of Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk, England. He had driven there himself that night with the intention of leaving his car, knowing that he was going out drinking with friends.
He had been on the phone with his brother approximately one hour after parking his car as he was waiting to meet up with his friends at a local spot known as So Bar.
Enjoying The Night Life
After enjoying some drinks and karaoke at So Bar, Corrie and his friends decided to go to another establishment for a change in scenery. Around 11:30 PM, the group left So Bar and found themselves at Wetherspoons, a UK-based pub chain.
While there, those who were with Corrie reported that he was acting totally normal, having a good time, and even chatting with some new people that the group had run into.
One Too Many
Eventually, Corrie and his friends found themselves at Flex Nightclub on St Andrews Street South in the early hours of September 24. However, this was the last time Corrie's friends would see him, as a doorman reported that he had to politely ask Corrie, who was visibly intoxicated, to leave the establishment.
The doorman further claimed that Corrie was "no trouble" and respectfully left, with the two even chatting on the street for a few minutes.
He Went To One Of His Typical Food Stops And Fell Asleep
Upon leaving Flex, Corrie supposedly went into Mama Mia's takeaway restaurant, which is a place that he frequented, to grab a bite to eat. He was reportedly seen there between 1:15 and 1:30 AM.
In the security footage, after finishing his food, Corrie leans against the door of Hughes Electrical Store, on Brentgrovel Street, slides to the ground, and falls asleep. His mother, Nicola Urquhart, states, "He doesn't move for nearly two hours [...] He wakes up, he stands up, he just kind of wanders about a bit."
The Last Time He Was Ever Seen
When he finally came to and stood up, he looked a bit dazed and began heading into a waste removal area referred to as "The Horseshoe," which is behind a group of other stores.
The last known sighting of Corrie was on a CCTV at 3:25 AM on Brentgovel Street, where there were a number of waste containers. However, there was never any footage taken of him leaving the area at any point after.
He Was Reported Missing
Then on Monday, September 26, a full day after he was last captured on camera, he didn't turn up to a parade at the air force base. While this wasn't necessarily alarming at first, after a thorough search of the base, and realizing that nobody had seen him since the weekend, he was reported missing to the police.
The police contacted his brother, Darroch, who then had to deliver the terrible news to their mother.
Jumping Into Action
Their mother, Nicola Urquhart, who is also a police officer, commented, "There's just so much going through your head [...] You just go numb. It was just auto-pilot."
Having worked on missing person cases herself, Nicola knew that she needed to provide the officers on the case with all of the information that they could need. She knew that there was no time to waste when it came to a person who was missing.
There Were People Who Needed To Be Questioned
Using the CCTV cameras that caught his final moments near the Horseshoe, the police were able to collect some evidence. They identified four vehicles that went into the loading zone, including a garbage truck, a delivery vehicle, and a vehicle belonging to an employee of one of the nearby stores.
There were an estimated 31 people in question on the night that Corrie went missing, including all of the drivers that were spotted on the CCTV.
Nicola Wanted To Check The Landfill
Afraid that her son had fallen into or fallen asleep in a trash bin, she prompted the police to search the nearby landfill. Unfortunately, the police were hesitant to do so, as they had come to the conclusion that it was impossible for a person to be unknowingly taken away in a bin.
Furthermore, they claimed that the bin they thought that Corrie might have been in only weighed around 35 pounds.
Nicola Wouldn't Take No For An Answer
Nicola kept pressuring the police to search the landfill, but they continued to be reluctant until they realized something groundbreaking. They learned that the bin in question actually weighed closer to 220 pounds, not 35!
This resulted in Hayden Stephens, a waste disposal worker, being arrested under suspicion of tampering with evidence. However, he was released without being charged when it was discovered that he had no involvement with weighing or recording the weight of trash bins.
Further Evidence Was Found That Supported Nicola's Beliefs
On top of realizing that the trash bin weighed heavier than previously thought, other evidence showed that Corrie had ended up in the landfill. His phone signal was traced until it died at 4:25 AM. It was found 14 miles northwest of where Corrie was last seen and on the same route that the garbage truck would have followed.
A search began of the landfill in Milton, Cambridgeshire, started in earnest in mid-February 2017 and is still ongoing. Although Nicola is convinced her son is there, she strongly doubts that Corrie climbed into a trash can to sleep.
Diving Into Corrie's Private Life
The investigation continued to the point where the police began digging deep into Corrie's personal life. It was revealed that Corrie and his girlfriend, April Oliver, had been members on a swinging website.
While most parents might want to keep this hidden from the public, his mother believed that anything she might provide to law enforcement could help solve the mystery of her missing son. She commented, "Corrie's a grown man. What he decides to do in his private life, that’s not my responsibility."
Not Everyone Agreed
Although Nicola was firm in her belief that any piece of information could help, no matter how private it may have been, other family members weren't as easily convinced. She noted that, "We've had some family members phoning up screaming at us over the phone saying we should have hidden this, it’s embarrassed us."
Nevertheless, because Nicola doesn't believe Corrie willingly went into the trash can, discovering people he maybe had come into contact with could help with the investigation.
Police Think They're Getting Close
By the end of June 2017, the police team that had been searching the landfill had sifted through more than 4,800 tons of waste. It's believed that by now the police had finally zoned out an area of the landfill that would most likely contain Corrie's remains.
This is because the area zoned out is where most of the trash that is taken from Bury St Edmunds, the last place that Corrie was seen alive, ends up.
A Lot Of Money Has Gone Into The Search
Corrie's disappearance has attracted widespread publicity both in the UK and internationally. There are countless groups and social media accounts dedicated to finding Corrie, whether it be dead or alive. Because the case is so prominent, police have spent an incredible amount of time and money on the investigation.
In total, the Suffolk Constabulary has spent more than £2.1 million investigating McKeague's disappearance, making it one of the most expensive missing persons cases that the force has been involved with.
The Police Stood By Their Initial Decisions
After it was discovered that the trash bin that Corrie might have been in was said to be the wrong weight, the police received a lot of flak from people all over that were following the search. However, the police defended their handling of the case.
A spokeswoman for the force commented, "Officers were told that the waste pick-up from the area was just 25 pounds, and it was only through comprehensive checking and re-checking by police that this was recently found to be incorrect."
Not Giving Up Hope
Although the official search for Corrie was closed in March 2018, the belief that his remains are somewhere in the landfill meant that some people could not give up.
People all over are still active in the search, with his mother taking matters into her own hands to find her son by leading search parties made up of volunteers. All that Nicola hopes is that her son is found, in order to grant her some closure and answers about Corrie's tragic disappearance.