Prefer to listen? Click this link to head over to the podcast episode on this case.
On the night of 23 September 2016, RAF Gunner Corrie Mckeague headed to Bury St Edmonds for a night out with friends and seemingly disappeared into thin air. Is this a case of a drunken mistake, or something far more sinister?
At the time of his disappearance, Corrie McKeague was 23-years-old. Like many young men he enjoyed going clubbing, and was a regular on the nightlife scene in Bury St Edmunds, a historic market town just a 20 minute drive from his RAF base. On 23 September 2016, he left RAF Honington at around 10pm, drove to town and parked up his car to collect the next day. Corrie spent the next few hours drinking and socialising before ending his evening at Flex Nightclub, where a bouncer asked him to leave as he’d had too much to drink.
Corrie left the club without protest and headed to his usual takeaway restaurant between 1:15 and 1:30am. Taking his food, he walked less than 300 feet to the doorway of an electrical shop, where he fell asleep for approximately 2 hours. Shortly after 3am, he woke up, sent a picture message to a friend and was spotted on CCTV entering an enclosed ‘horseshoe area’. This is the last time Corrie has ever been seen.
With cameras installed on every adjoining street, yet no further sign of Corrie McKeague, police were left baffled by the young man's disappearance. The 'horseshoe area' that Corrie had entered is primarily used as a loading bay and refuse collection area. The surrounding buildings are almost exclusively storerooms, accessible only by shops on the front of the street. Behind one door is a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre, though this also lay empty on the night of the 23rd.
40 minutes after his last sighting, a lorry arrived to collect one of the several large, industrial style bins that line the perimeter of the horseshoe. Corrie’s phone was tracked as leaving the area at the exact same time as the lorry, travelling 12 miles within a 28 minute period. At 8am the signal was lost, the phone having either been damaged or run out of battery. However, initial reports noted the bin weighing just 15kg, not nearly enough to have contained Corrie himself.
As the months rolled by, the investigation continued, with various theories of foul play being put forward. But each came back to the same question - how could anyone have harmed him without being caught on CCTV? In March 2017, almost 6 months after Corrie was last seen, it was revealed that an error had been made with the weight of the bin, which had in fact been around 100kg. Police turned their attention towards the Cambridgeshire landfill where Corrie's mobile phone had last been located. Yet after sifting through almost 7000 tonnes of waste over a 20 week period, there was still no sign of Corrie McKeague.
Four months after his disappearance, it emerged that Corrie's girlfriend April Oliver was pregnant with his child. On 11th June 2017 Oliver gave birth to a healthy baby girl, who she named Ellie-Louise. Now a father as well as a loving brother and son, the search for answers feels ever more desperate. Over a year has passed since Corrie's disappearance, and the chance of substantive new leads is growing ever slimmer. But as calls to the tip line dwindle and the landfill is filled back in, Corrie's family still wait for their boy to come home.
What do you think happened to Corrie? Discuss your theories in the comments below.