Exeter, Devon UK • Jul 18, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home Features Missing since March – the story of Exeter graduate Jack O’Sullivan

Missing since March – the story of Exeter graduate Jack O’Sullivan

A recently graduated Exeter student has now been missing for more than 100 days.
3 min read
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(Image: Avon and Somerset police)

TW: missing persons, suicide.

On Monday 17th July 2023, Jack O’Sullivan graduated from Exeter with a degree in History. On Saturday 2nd March, 2024, he went missing.

After graduation, Jack had moved back home to Bristol to continue his studies. On Friday 1st March, Jack (described as white, slim, 5 foot 10 with dark hair) attended a house party in the Hotwells area with some friends from his course. In the early hours of the following morning, he was walking home alone along Brunel Lock Road, near Bristol’s city centre.

CCTV footage shows Jack, wearing a green and brown Barbour jacket with navy chinos, crossing a grassy verge at 3:13 am. At 3:34 am, he answered a phone call from a friend still at the party, only managing to say the word “hello” before the line disconnected. He has not been seen or heard from since.

For the family, it has of course been a gruelling few months. Jack’s older brother Ben, to whom he was very close, visits the area of the last sighting daily, hoping to come across someone with information. He told the BBC, “it’s so surreal…it’s like a puzzle but having your brother at the forefront of it, it’s horrifying…but I’m determined, my family’s determined, to get the answers that we need.”

“It’s so surreal…it’s like a puzzle but having your brother at the forefront of it, it’s horrifying…but I’m determined, my family’s determined, to get the answers that we need.”

Ben O’Sullivan

To add to the family’s ordeal, it has recently emerged that Avon and Somerset police, the regional force responsible for Jack’s case, made several crucial mistakes in the early stages of their search. Critical CCTV footage was initially missed by the authorities, and only emerged thanks to the efforts of Jack’s mum Catherine. On top of this, an administrative error meant that Jack was not added to the countrywide Missing People’s Register until he had already been missing for more than two months.

Catherine said, “We have to live with the fact that Jack’s not here, but to find that the people who could have been looking for him haven’t done it properly is just devastating.” Frustrated, the family has filed a complaint against the police, and offered their own £20,000 reward for information.

I spoke to a close friend of Jack’s, Greg Emerick, a History MA student who lived with him for two years.

Jack and Greg met on the first day of University, as he moved into Holland Hall (where Greg also lived), back in September 2020. They both studied History, and became close friends over first year.

Greg and Jack moved in together for second year, along with two other friends. Tragically, two months into the year, one of these friends, Adam Smethurst, took his own life by colliding with a train near Exeter St Davids. Following this, the other friend deferred, leaving just the two of them for the rest of the year.

For third year, the pair lived in a two-bedroom flat. Greg fondly remembers “long walks to Duckes Meadow for the History football intramural matches, the History Society Spring Ball, trips to the tennis courts and cinema visits/film nights in.”

“After celebrating our happy graduations in July ‘23, Jack and I stayed in almost daily contact. I enjoyed a visit to Bristol to Jack’s family home…Jack often came back to Exeter to visit our friendship circle, in October, November, December, and February, when I saw him last.”

Greg described Jack as “caring, humorous, easy to talk to – sometimes we were on the phone for 3 hours – a good listener and always good company. His quiet confidence, ambition and drive always inspired me.”

” [Jack is] caring, humorous, easy to talk to – sometimes we were on the phone for 3 hours – a good listener and always good company. His quiet confidence, ambition and drive always inspired me.”

Greg Emerick

Greg first heard the news of the disappearance “from Jack’s brother in the early afternoon of March 2nd – asking on the off chance if Jack had come to Exeter after not returning home the night before. At first I was not too concerned, thinking that he would soon turn up.”

“I hadn’t thought much more until the morning of Sunday 3rd, when the Police issued a missing persons notice…It is hard to put into words how I felt as those initial hours and days went on.”

Today marks 117 days since Jack’s disappearance. For the sake of Jack, his family, Greg and all those affected, we can only hope that anyone with information comes forward. How to do so is explained below.

Key information:

If you have information on Jack, call 101 and give the call handler the reference number 5224055172. Alternatively, complete this online form. Link to the GoFundMe page for the information reward.

Jack O’Sullivan is white, approximately 5ft10 inches, of slim build with short, brown hair. He was last seen wearing a quilted green/brown Barbour jacket over a beige woollen jumper, navy chinos and brown leather trainers with white soles.

Disclaimer: if you have been affected by the content of this article, there is mental health support available on campus or at the NHS (call 111) or at the Samaritans (call 116123).

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