‘We are forever grateful’: The real story behind Owami Davies’ disappearance
It took seven weeks, 118 sightings and five arrests to bring Owami home
Owami Davies, nicknamed Princess by her loved ones, left her family home in Grays, Essex on Monday 4th July 2022. Two days later, on the evening of July 6th Owami was seen in a corner shop on Derby Road in Croydon. Shortly after this CCTV shows Owami and a man both walking down the road in Croydon, just after midnight on July 7th – this was the last reported sighting of Owami on CCTV.
Every day since her disappearance Owami’s family have been posting on Twitter asking people to share information. Her family have said words cannot explain the emotions they have felt without Owami at home. People who have never met Owami have been praying for her safety, lighting candles in church and showing photos of her to anyone who is willing to look. One week ago Owami’s family said: “she is miserable just like we are, help Owami find her way home. Days keep going up this is too painful to bear.”
It took two months of searching, 50 officers, 50,000 hours of CCTV, 118 reported sightings and five arrests to get to this moment. Yesterday Owami Davies was found safe and well in Hampshire, over 100 miles away from her hometown in Essex.
Owami is a trainee nurse at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ NHS Trust Foundation. Her mother said Owami was “really happy” prior to going missing. She had a total of two months left of studying, and had recently secured herself a job at the hospital.
On the day she went missing Owami’s 15-year-old brother saw her for what he didn’t know would be the last time in seven weeks. When she failed to arrive at the gym, her mother used the Find My iPhone app and noticed Owami went to Chafford Gorges Nature Park in Grays, Essex – a park next to their family home. Instead of following her daughter, Nicol asked her son to go instead. He found Owami sitting on a bench drinking, they talked and he asked her to come home. She said she wanted some down time and wasn’t ready to come home yet. But this isn’t unusual for Owami, according to her mother Nicol.
Nicol said Owami had experienced periods of depression in the past for which she needed medical treatment. Nicol also says Owami had sometimes used alcohol to deal with her depression, but she has never been away from home for more than three days – making this seven week absence “the longest, most painful time”. Occasionally if Owami was feeling low, she would stay in a hotel and then ring a family member to come and collect her. It’s something they have come to understand as a family, but even still it was difficult for Owami’s brother to find her in the park.
On July 6th, Owami’s family reported her missing to Essex Police. On the same day she was found asleep in a doorway in Croydon waiting for a friend. She told Metropolitan Police officers she didn’t need any help and left. However, at this time she had not been marked as a missing person on the police database. Metropolitan Commander Paul Brogden said this aspect of Owami’s disappearance will be looked at in the review of the investigation.
At Guy’s and St. Thomas’ departments failed to report her shift absence, The Independent reported and “sat on” the news of Owami’s disappearance for weeks. NHS staff members have expressed their concern over the trust’s “inadequate” response and lack of urgency towards Owami’s disappearance.
For seven weeks, Owami’s family were hounding themselves with questions about where she could have been, what she was eating, if she had clean clothes, where she had slept during the night. They have said their nights were sleepless whilst Owami wasn’t at home. Those who grew up around Owami knew her as Tonie, her mother appealed on BBC news saying her daughter would have never stayed away from them “deliberately”.
On 2nd August, two men aged 23 and 27 were arrested in Croydon on suspicion of murder. A property on Derby Road was cordoned off and a forensics tent was erected at the side of the home. The following day on 3rd August, police released CCTV showing Owami in the company of a man on the night she was last seen alive before being found. The footage showed her crossing a road after midnight on 7th July. Detectives appealed for the driver of the white van which was seen parked on the road and driving off as Owami, and the man she was with, crossed the road. A third man aged 32 was arrested on suspicion of murder. On 4th August, the police then arrested another man, aged 22, on suspicion of murder and then a fifth and final man on August 6th was arrested. The Metropolitan Police clarified the status of all the arrests as all five were released on bail until September pending further investigations.
On 3rd August, CCTV images of a woman who is not Owami, were sent to the media by the police who incorrectly identified the woman as Owami. These images were then published by some media outlets, reporting it as a sighting of Owami. However, new images were released correctly picturing her once the error was identified around two hours later. A spokesperson for the Met clarified this was not a fault from the investigating team.
The 118th report made at 10:30am yesterday was what led to Owami Davies being found. After seven weeks of countless sleepless nights, Owami’s family were informed she was safe and appeared to be fit and well cared for. The Metropolitan Police confirmed she had spoken with her family yesterday and officers were preparing to speak to her regarding her welfare.
Shortly after learning about Owami’s safety, her family took to Twitter to tell everyone the good news. They shared a message which said: “Good evening everyone, Owami Davies has been found. Found alive and safe. We spoke to her. We, the Davies family, would like to express our deepest gratitude to each and everyone of you wherever you are, whoever you are. Thank you for your well wishes, love, hugs, and thoughts. Together we searched far and beyond. We are forever grateful.”