Body found in water is confirmed to be Essex birdwatcher Timothy Hatcher, missing for five months

Birdwatcher appeal
A body found in water at Maldon in Essex has been confirmed to be that of the missing birdwatcher. Credit: Essex Police

A body found in water by a member of the public is that of a missing birdwatcher last seen in December, police have confirmed.

Timothy Hatcher, 69, who lived with dementia, was last seen on 18 December in the Co-op in Meadgate Avenue in Chelmsford, Essex.

He was reported missing two days later and Essex Police spent months searching the area for him, issuing repeated appeals.

Police were called to Cut-a-Thwart Lane in Maldon around 5.30pm on 13 May after a member of the public reported a suspicious item in the water. 

This was confirmed to be a body and following investigation including DNA inquiries and a forensic post-mortem, police have confirmed that it is that of the missing birdwatcher.

Mr Hatcher's death is not being treated as suspicious and a file has been prepared for the coroner. 

Det Supt Scott Egerton said: "This is terribly sad news, but I hope that this confirmation provides some closure to Timothy’s loved ones. 

“The investigation into Timothy’s disappearance was a significant one for us and included widespread searches across Chelmsford and surrounding areas."

Police and search specialists carried out around 400 hours of searching covering 5km of land and a 4km stretch of the River Chelmer.

Det Supt Egerton said: "We had the support of Essex Search and Rescue, and utilised kayaks, sonar, and an underwater drone.

“We carried reviewed hundreds of hours of CCTV footage, analysed phone and financial data, and carried out house-to-house inquiries.

“This was a complex investigation and search and clearly this is not the result we had been hoping for.

“Our officers were supported by dozens of people in the community as well as Essex Search and Rescue and I would like to thank them for their support.” 

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