Sheffield student who went missing feared to have been ‘radicalised’ by a church

Friends described his behaviour as ‘manic’ and ‘creepy’

A Sheffield student who went missing is feared to have been “radicalised” by the church he attended.

Sam* had told those around him that he was hearing the voice of God before he went missing from his city centre university halls, the BBC reports.

His parents feared that a church their son had recently become involved with was “exploiting him” as he is susceptible to mental health problems.

The student had been in Sheffield with his father to move out of his student halls at the time he disappeared. His father waited outside in the car whilst Sam collected belongings from his room.

After Sam did not return to the car for more than an hour, his father went to check but found him to be missing. Sam had handed in his keys to the hall reception and left without informing anyone where he was going.

His former flatmates described how in the lead-up to his disappearance, Sam’s behaviour became “manic” and “creepy” to the point they were “frightened of him”. They described how he would pace up and down the hallways of their flat at 5am, reciting verses from the bible.

via BBC

“There’s nothing else going on in his mind, it’s just religion and God telling him what to do. He doesn’t study anymore because God told him not to”, his flatmate said.

Sheffield police understand that the church the student was a part of instructed him to keep his phone off and not contact his family. The church also lead him to believe that Covid-19 did not exist and that “illnesses are all in the mind.”

24 hours after he was initially reported missing, the student handed himself into university security where he was then taken for a mental health assessment by the police. However, four weeks after he was found, Sam was reported missing again after he failed to return to the ward he was receiving treatment at after taking a walk.

Staff at the ward outlined to the police how when he stopped taking his medication, Sam believed he was hearing the voice of God and that one of his friends also involved with the church had been encouraging him over text to stop taking his medication altogether.

After being missing for two weeks, police were able to ascertain that Sam had taken a train from York to Sheffield by tracking the transactions made with his bank card.

More than 18 days after his disappearance, the police received a call from the University Medical Centre to say Sam had come in. Upon speaking with the doctor who saw Sam, the police were informed that Sam had voluntarily come in to receive some support for his mental health. As the doctor did not think Sam was at risk of harming himself or others, the police are no longer classifying him as a missing person.

*Name is changed to preserve anonymity.

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Featured images via BBC.