Our readers have shared their sadness after police told Richard Okorogheye’s mother the body found in Epping Forest matches his description.

Richard, who has sickle cell disease, was reported missing from his home in Ladbroke Grove, west London, on the evening of March 22.

He was last seen on CCTV in Loughton and on Monday, Essex Police revealed a body of a man had been found in Wake Valley pond in the forest.

Formal identification and a post-mortem have yet to take place, but the 19-year-old’s mother, Evidence Joel, says police have informed her “the description matches his”.

While Richard was not from Epping Forest, the community has been shocked and saddened by the news of the young man’s plight.

“From me as a mother to this lady and her lost son, my deepest condolences,” said reader Amy Beardmore. “She has acted with such dignity in the face of a truly horrendous situation. I hope she and the whole family eventually find some peace now that they are able to at least bring him home and lay him to rest.”

Evidence Joel said her son had emotionally opened up to her about “struggling to cope” with the combined pressures of university and shielding as a vulnerable individual during the pandemic.

For a whole year the 19-year-old had been stuck indoors, only able to leave the house to go to hospital for regular blood transfusions for his condition.

Reader Celstine Celestes said: “I cannot imagine your pain Joel, sending you prayers. I have no idea how you come back from this horrendous situation. Rip Richard.”

“Prayers for the family just hope things piece together fast and not leave anyone suffering any longer not knowing what has actually happened,” added Kirsty Louise.

“No one deserves to be found like that, with all his life ahead of him.”

Independent Loughton councillor Stephen Murray said: “My Thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this very sad time.”

Detective Superintendent Danny Gosling says the Met Police is providing Richard’s family with support, with officers specially trained in grief support, remaining with the family.

Police remain on the scene in Epping Forest as detectives continue to try and piece together what happened to Richard.

Mr Gosling said: “This is an extensive inquiry, and we are working tirelessly to establish the full circumstances. This includes forensic medical and specialist inquiries, which all take time to complete.”

His mother previously told Sky News that she "most definitely" thought her son was on the way to meet someone he met online

Reader Terri North said: “This is just so so sad. This poor boy and his mum. A parent’s worst nightmare... May you rest in perfect peace.”

“My thoughts and prayers go to his mother, family and friends, it was not the outcome anyone was hoping for, thoughts also to those involved in the search and rescue,” added Lee English.

Alison Cats said: “So very sad. I am not alone in the hope of a good outcome but sadly it wasn't to be. I truly thought he was hiding out with friends. My thoughts are with everyone involved at this time, especially his family and friends and thank u to the police for not giving up.”

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