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What happened to RAF serviceman Corrie McKeague and when did he go missing in Bury St Edmunds?

THE fate of missing RAF airman Corrie McKeague remains a mystery nearly four years since his disappearance from Bury St Edmunds in September 2016.

Now his family fears the human remains recently discovered in the River Stour in Sudbury, Suffolk, could be his. Here's everything we know about the serviceman's disappearance and the search for him.

Who is Corrie McKeague?

Corrie McKeague was originally from Fife in Scotland.

The serviceman was posted to RAF Honington, which is ten miles north of Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk.

Corrie, a senior aircraftman, was the son of Nicola, from Dunfermline, and Martin McKeague from Cupar, and has two brothers, Darroch and Makeyan McKeague.

Police appealing for information described him as white, 5ft 10ins tall, of medium build with short light brown hair.

Corrie met his girlfriend April Oliver five months before his disappearance, and in January 2017, four months after he vanished, she announced she was pregnant.

The baby girl was born on Father's Day, June 18, 2017.

The 21-year-old, who gave birth to baby Ellie-Louise, named her baby's middle name after the missing RAF airman.

What happened to Corrie McKeague?

The gunner, then 23, went missing on September 24, 2016, after a night out in Bury St Edmunds.

Corrie drove to the town for a night out wearing a pink Ralph Lauren shirt, white trousers and brown Timberland boots.

He separated from his friends, with CCTV footage showing him eating takeaway food at around 1.20am.

At 3.24am he was spotted taking a nap in a nearby doorway before leaving the view of the camera.

This was the last confirmed sighting of Corrie.

Data from Corrie's phone showed it moved between Bury and Barton Mills on the morning of his disappearance.

This is on the route of the lorry that collected rubbish from the bins where Corrie was last seen.

Detectives believe he could have been crushed by a bin lorry after falling asleep in one.

Cops revealed Corrie was "known to sleep in bins".

But a crucial blunder meant the weight of rubbish on board was wrongly recorded.

What are the theories surrounding his disappearance?

There are various theories about what may have happened to the RAF serviceman.

Corrie may have attempted to walk home and managed to dodge the cameras.

Another option is that he willingly got in a car with someone else close to the area, or that he was taken against his will.

Police say analysis of mobile phone data revealed his phone travelled between the market town of Bury St Edmunds and Barton Mills, more than 13 miles away.

Timings of a nearby bin lorry match up with the phone's movement, so the truck was seized.

Detectives initially thought the load weighed less than 15kg, meaning officers did not believe Corrie was in the lorry.

But later it emerged this was incorrect, and the actual weight was 90kg (14stone) heavier – which Corrie's mum said "can only mean one thing".

In March 2018 Corrie's dad Martin said he believed his son may have killed himself.

He claimed his son knew his girlfriend was pregnant before he disappeared — and it would have had a "profound effect" on him.

Mum Nicola Urquhart believes evidence in the inquiry was manipulated.

Appearing on BBC's Victoria Derbyshire show, she said there was "inconsistency" over evidence in the missing persons inquiry.

She and her sons also said comments made by dad Martin McKeague over how Corrie may have come to be in the bin were "atrocious" and "appalling".

She added that data, such as the weight of the bin load taken to landfill after he disappeared, had either been manipulated or "someone is lying".

In July 2018, nearly two years since Corrie's disappearance, dad Martin his son's body was "somewhere in the Suffolk waste disposal system" and would never be able to be recovered.

Mum Nicola also renewed her criticism of the police for that she says is their failure to search key areas.

The investigation into Mr McKeague's disappearance was passed to cold case detectives in 2018.

Suffolk Police said the "most likely scenario" is that Mr McKeague went into a bin which was emptied into a lorry and ended up in the waste process.

No trace of him has ever been found.

Where did police search for Corrie McKeague?

In February 2017 cops began to search a landfill site where a waste collection was delivered on the morning Corrie disappeared.

The expected six-to-ten-week search ended up taking far longer, but police confirmed they had "not found anything" at the site.

A 26-year-old man was later arrested on suspicion of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

But cops said the man arrested would face no further action, as it emerged the weight of a bin picked up on the night Corrie went missing was recorded incorrectly, suggesting his body could have been in it.

Police initially said they were "confident" of finding Corrie's body at the site and his mum said it was "just a matter of time".

But after a mammoth 20-week investigation, cops finally stopped searching the rubbish for clues on July 21 – sparking emotional scenes as Corrie's dad blockaded the tip's entrance.

His family spoke of their heartache over his disappearance – with his dad sharing new pictures of his son as a young boy on several occasions.

They also hit out at vultures flogging a range of clothes and mugs emblazoned with missing Corrie's face.

On 27 August, 2020, human remains in the River Stour in Sudbury, Suffolk, were discovered.

Suffolk Police said that a post-mortem examination of the bones found could "not able to establish any form of identification or cause of death".

The force said further tests are now taking place, adding that this will be a "lengthy process".

What happened in November 2018?

Corrie's dad has said farewell to the missing 23-year-old RAF gunner at a special memorial service held on November 10, 2018.

Grieving Martin McKeague, 49, organised the emotional church tribute after accepting his beloved son, last seen over two years ago, is dead.

The dad of three brushed away tears as he hailed Corrie – who vanished on a night out in Bury St Edmund, Suffolk – as “carefree and energetic”.

He was joined by wife Trisha, 56, and around 200 family, friends and RAF officials at St Columba’s RC Church in Cupar, Fife.

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