The police search for the missing airman, Corrie McKeague, will be handed over to the cold case squad as detectives say there are no more “realistic lines of enquiry left to pursue”.
McKeague was 23 years old when he was last seen on September 24, 2016 in Bury St Edmunds. He was last seen into a bin loading bay, where he is thought to have climbed in to a waste bin.
Suffolk Police said there was nothing to suggest “any foul play or third party involvement”.
They said the evidence points to McKeague being transported in a bin lorry and taken to the Milton landfill site.
Mckeague was last seen on CCTV at around 3am after a night out. His phone was tracked taking the same route as a local bin lorry.
Police searched the site for the missing airman’s remains as part of their inquiry, however said they were satisfied he was not there.
Detective Superintendent Katie Elliott said: “It is extremely disappointing that we have not been able to find Corrie. I can only imagine the strain Corrie’s family have been under over the past 18 months and I thank them for their patience and understanding.
“Whilst the investigation has drawn to a natural conclusion we will continue to work with the family to provide answers to their questions and help them understand what may have happened.”
Elliot added that the police had explored all relevant lines of enquiry but had reached a point where no further progress was likely. She added: “If any new, credible and proportionate enquiries relating to Corrie’s disappearance emerge, we will pursue them.”
Detectives said that the case will remain open and will be moved into the major investigation cold case team.
Police said that more than 1,500 people had been spoken to during the inquiry and more than 2,000 hours of CCTV had been reviewed.
Assistant Chief Constable Simon Megicks from Suffolk Constabulary said: “Saddened as I am that we have not found Corrie, I have absolute confidence in the way the investigation was conducted.”
He added: “The unit’s report concludes police have conducted a thorough and detailed investigation, and explored all reasonable lines of enquiry. It also endorses the primary hypothesis that Corrie ended up in the waste disposal process.”
The investigation has cost £2.1m, with the government expected to contribute a further £800,000 to the costs.