Owami Davies, the 24-year-old student nurse who was reported missing in early July and whose last sighting had been in West Croydon, has been found safe and well.
The Metropolitan Police issued a statement just before 5pm yesterday to announce that thanks to a sighting reported by a member of the public, Davies had been located in Hampshire. First official reports suggested that Davies was not “at risk”, harmed nor in a state of distress, as previous appeals from the police had suggested might be the case.
It was almost seven weeks since Davies had been reported missing. The sighting which led to her discovery was the 118th that the police had received from around the country.
With so much of the search for Davies having been focused on Croydon, where she had last been sighted on July 7, and with the police in south London having arrested five men, including two for suspected murder, in connection with the woman’s disappearance, serious questions are now being asked about the handling of the search by two forces, Essex and the Metropolitan Police.
That police in Croydon actually interviewed Owami Davies on July 6, the day her family in Grays, Essex, had reported her missing, is likely to be a central part of the forthcoming investigation into the investigation.
The police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct, announced last weekend that it would be looking into the series of events which led to a missing person being interviewed by officers without anyone realising she was subject to a missing persons case.
TIMELINE OF A MISSING PERSON SEARCH
Monday 4 July: Owami Davies leaves her family home in Grays, Essex.
Wednesday 6 July: She is reported as missing to Essex police.
Wednesday 6 July, approximately 11pm: Met officers attend an address in Clarendon Road, Croydon, after receiving calls expressing concern for the welfare of a woman. Davies turns down the offer of an ambulance. Officers do not know who she is, nor that she is missing.
Thursday 7 July: The last known sighting, caught on CCTV, shows Davies in a dark jacket, red T-shirt, light grey joggers and slider-type shoes, carrying a white handbag over her shoulder. She is walking north on London Road, Croydon, away from West Croydon Station. She is seen in the company of a man.
Wednesday 13 July: The Met realises the woman it came across the week before was Davies.
Saturday 23 July: The case transfers from Essex police to the Met.
Sunday 31 July: Scotland Yard urges people in West Croydon to “check their sheds and outbuildings” for signs of disturbance in the hope of trying to find her.
Monday 1 August: The first of a series of arrests is made. In total, five people are arrested: three on suspicion of kidnap, and two for murder. All have been bailed.
Tuesday 16 August: The Met releases a statement saying Davies could still be “in the local area and in need of help”.
Thursday 18 August: British Transport Police say Davies could still be frequently travelling by train around London, appearing dazed and confused.
Saturday 20 August: The police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct, announces it is considering an investigation into Scotland Yard.
Monday 22 August: Detectives say Davies could be rough sleeping and that they are investigating 117 reported sightings across the country.
Tuesday 23 August: Davies is found “safe and well” in Hampshire and “not currently in [a] vulnerable state”, police say.
After she was found yesterday, DCI Nigel Penney, from the Met’s specialist crime command, said: “She looks in good health, she’s in a place of safety, and not currently in the vulnerable state that we were led to believe she was in at the start of her disappearance.
“This is the outcome we were all hoping and praying for. My team have been working around to clock to find Owami and we are immensely relieved she has been found.” The force confirmed Davies’ family had spoken to her after she had been found.
Penney said officers were trying to establish what led to Davies’s disappearance. “Owami will be spoken to and we’ll try to fathom reasons as to how she disappeared, why she disappeared, and if there was any concern around the days and weeks while she was disappeared for us to be concerned about.”
He said Davies was “probably” aware of the scale of the force’s search, given the amount of publicity the case attracted.
In an interview with the Evening Standard published on Tuesday morning, Davies’s mother said that her brother had found her drinking in a park near her home on the day she disappeared, but she told him she did not want to come home because she “wanted some down time”.
Met Commander Paul Brogden said last night that the police will be looking into their handling of the case.
“We know there have been concerns raised around the search for Owami.
“We, alongside our colleagues in Essex Police, will be carrying out a review of all our actions from when Owami was first reported missing to ensure we have acted correctly and to identify any ways to improve our response to finding other missing people.”
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