The father of airman Corrie McKeague has said that his son is “no longer missing” as he claims he knows what happened to him and that he is in the waste disposal system, most likely a Cambridgeshire landfill.
Martin McKeague, 49, wrote on Facebook: “Corrie is no longer missing.
“What we mean by this is that after looking at all of the facts and evidence we now know what happened to our son.
“We are certain he is somewhere in the Suffolk waste disposal system, but his remains are essentially irretrievable.”
Corrie McKeague was 23 years old when he vanished on a night out in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, on September 24 2016.
Police believe he climbed into a waste bin and was taken away by a refuse lorry.
He had been stationed at RAF Honington, around 10 miles from Bury St Edmunds.
No trace of him has been found, and police said in March that the investigation was being handed to a cold case squad.
His father Martin McKeague wrote that police came to visit the family in Scotland to review the facts of the investigation in detail in October last year and February this year.
The evidence presented to him was “as thorough as it was compelling”, he said, and that experts “concluded beyond any doubt that Corrie had ended up in the Suffolk waste disposal system”.
“Accepting that conclusion has clearly not been easy for the McKeague family in Scotland, nor anyone else,” he wrote.
He said the remaining areas were either “too toxic to search” or “so vast it could take years to do so”.
He added that his son’s disappearance had been an “unbelievable and horrific journey of grieve (sic) and acceptance for the McKeague family”.
He said there are plans for a memorial for Corrie in the future.
It is thought he fell asleep in a bin in an area known as the Horseshoe and was later taken to a landfill site at Milton, Cambridgeshire.
Suffolk Police said this week they had “reached the point where there are no realistic lines of enquiry left to pursue”, with the investigation handed to a cold case team.
Mr McKeague said: “I think from the moment I stood in the Horseshoe down in Bury St Edmunds, I knew that Corrie never walked out of there. I think I knew then that I would never see him again. It was a gut feeling.
“I believe in my heart I have done everything I can do, as his father. I have tried as hard as I can to find out what happened to him. The worst outcome is that we didn’t get him in the landfill, despite all the facts and the evidence that that’s how he ended up.
“It is utterly heartbreaking.”
Mr McKeague had visited the Cambridgeshire landfill site every week to meet and thank police and volunteers as they searched through 9,500 tonnes of waste in a 14-hectare area known as Cell 22, where it is thought his son ended up.
He said he owed Suffolk Police “a lifetime of gratitude”.
“I know that Suffolk Police tried their hardest to find him in the landfill,” Mr McKeague said.
“They’ve done everything they could and I’ll be forever in their debt.
“It’s heartbreaking that we didn’t find him and we couldn’t put him to rest the way we wanted.”
Mr McKeague said he was now planning a small memorial service this summer to help him and loved ones gain some closure following the police’s decision.
“For our family – myself, my mum and dad and everybody round about us – to try and put closure to it.
“To have a service for him and try to move on from all that time that we spent at the landfill looking for him – and try and start to remember him for the man that he grew up to be.
Mr McKeague said footage on the night his son vanished showed the 23-year-old was intoxicated and “not in the right frame of mind”.