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Dublin: 6 °C Sunday 20 October, 2019

Sitdown Sunday: The disappearance of Corrie McKeague

Grab a comfy chair and sit back with some of the week’s best longreads.

IT’S A DAY of rest, and you may be in the mood for a quiet corner and a comfy chair.

We’ve hand-picked the week’s best reads for you to savour.

1. Thinking about Waco

Branch Davidian Religious Sect Members David Koresh and his wife Rachel with their son Cyrus. Source: Sygma via Getty Images

25 years ago, 82 members of a cult were killed – along with 4 officers – in Waco. The lead negotiator at the scene is still arguing about what happened.

(Texas Monthly, approx 33 mins reading time)

Sage had begun the morning by instructing Koresh and his followers to exit their building, but no one inside had budged. Over the next few hours, he stood inside a small house that the FBI had dubbed Sierra One Alpha, just across the road from Mount Carmel, as tanklike combat engineering vehicles doused the Davidians with tear gas. Sage kept hoping to see the members of the group filing out toward the road. Instead, shortly after noon, flames began to shoot out of the building. “I went from orders to requests to, ultimately, as the fire spread, pleas,” he says.

2. Inside the Belfast rape trial

Conor Gallagher has been reporting on the Belfast rape trial throughout the 12 weeks that it was on. Here’s his in-depth look at what went on.

(Irish Times, approx 33 mins reading time)

But there were also other factors which contributed to the massive public interest. The evidence in the case, particularly the bawdy and derogatory texts exchanged between the men (“pumped a bird with Jacko last night, roasted her”), gave an insight into the laddish world of male rugby culture. And perhaps, most significantly, the trial came at a time when issues of consent and male entitlement are being discussed around dinner tables everywhere.

3. The use of text messages in criminal investigations

pjimage (1) Top L-R: Stuart Olding, Paddy Jackson. Bottom L-R: Blane McIlroy, Rory Harrison Source: Getty Images

In the wake of the Belfast rape trial verdict, Michelle Hennessy looks at the use of text messages in the case and in criminal investigations in Ireland.

(, approx 10 mins reading time)

“Gardaí regularly seize mobile phones and other digital devices from suspects in sexual offence matters. These devices can be forensically analysed to recover data such as phone records, text messages, browsing histories etc. Even deleted data is capable of recovery. The gardaí also have the power to require social media firms to hand over data which may be relevant to a criminal enquiry, we have seen data from Facebook, WhatsApp, Snapchat and other social media being recovered as part of their investigations.”

4. The disappearance of Corrie McKeague

In September 2017, a young airman called Corrie McKeague was on a night out in Suffolk. Early in the morning he was seen on CCTV – then he disappeared. Now the case is being wound down. Here’s a look at what we know so far.

(BBC, approx 21 mins reading time)

Officers have spent months searching a landfill site for his remains without success. His girlfriend has given birth to their baby daughter. His family fear he is dead but remain haunted by unanswered questions about how he died. According to his mother, the 23-year-old RAF airman was a risk-taker whose approach to life was shaped by a shocking experience in his childhood.

5. Lost and found

687874348 Source: Getty Images/Moment RF

Hannah Upp has a condition where she goes missing for weeks at a time, entering a ‘fugue state’ where she disassociates from herself. Why is this happening to her and will it ever stop?

(The New Yorker, approx 42 mins reading time)

A detective asked Hannah’s mother, Barbara Bellus, to come to the Thirtieth Precinct, in Harlem, to view the Apple Store surveillance footage. Barbara watched a woman wearing a sports bra and running shorts, her brown hair pulled into a high ponytail, ascend the staircase in the store. A man stopped her and asked if she was the missing teacher in the news. Barbara said, “I could see her blow off what he was saying, and I knew instantly it was her—it was all her. She has this characteristic gesture. It’s, like, ‘Oh, no, no, don’t you worry. You know me, I’m fine.’ ”

6. Stormont

RTÉ’s Northern Editor Tommie Gorman reflects on the events of late 2016, when Martin McGuinness and Arlene Foster travelled to London for the unveiling of a portrait of the Queen. No-one knew it then, but it happened in what would be one of the last weeks of stability in Stormont. Gorman uses the event as a jump-off point to reflect on (amongst other things) McGuinness’s battle against his illness, and the remarkable progress made in the North in the decade after the Sinn Féin politician first took office alongside Ian Paisley.

(RTÉ, approx 18 mins reading time)

Sometimes we don’t twig the significance of an event until it has passed. And the circumstances or even a lesser version of them will never be created again. Looking back on it now, that evening gathering by the Thames in Chelsea, on Tuesday 9 November 2016, was probably one of the last, positive uncomplicated events in a phase of Anglo-Irish relations. The cast of characters, the optimism of the occasion – probably unjustified – will never be reassembled again.


This story from 2013 is about a group who smuggled marijuana into the US from Thailand.

(Atavist, approx 121 mins reading time)

Dave and his team snapped into action. Everyone was practiced and drilled—that was the Company’s style. They were a tight, coordinated unit, most of them friends who grew up together in Coronado, a secluded little beach town on a peninsula off the coast of San Diego. A decade earlier, they had been classmates at Coronado High. Some of them were surfers and would bring small bales of pot across the border after surfing trips to Mexico.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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