Final text from my daughter, 21, before she was found dead on beach haunts me – I'm tortured by unanswered questions | The Sun

STARING at the words ‘I love you’ on her mobile phone, Esther Abe breaks down in heartrending sobs.

The simple message, sent at 1.24am on September 18, 2020, was the last she received from daughter Blessing Olusegun, who was working as a carer in the Sussex town of Bexhill.

Just five hours later, the 21-year-old was found dead on a beach by a local dogwalker – sparking a mystery that remains unexplained to this day.

Blessing, a business student from South London, was a non-swimmer who would never have willingly gone into the water, and friends say walking to the beach at midnight was out of character.

Yet police quickly ruled out any foul play, blaming the death on suicide or an accident, and a postmortem ruled that she had drowned.

In a new MTV documentary, Body on the Beach: What Happened to Blessing?, family and friends claim Sussex police were too quick to jump to conclusions about her death, and failed to investigate properly – a charge the force strongly denies.


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In the documentary, which airs tonight, filmmaker Linda Adey examines theories that broken nails and a missing wig could point to a struggle, and friends reveal how their campaign Justice4Blessing went viral amid claims of racism and unconscious bias.

Heartbroken Esther, who has fought for answers for two years, tells Linda she has been exhausted by crushing grief.

“Every day is tough, thinking about what happened that night,” she says.

“I still find it difficult to process but I just have to accept it because I don’t have the strength to fight any more.

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“Every day I miss her, every day I think about her. Every day I cry that she is not here any more with us because she was the one who kept us going in this house.”

Blessing was an ambitious business student who planned to launch a make-up academy and had helped set up a charity to aid poverty-stricken children in her birthplace, Nigeria.

“Blessing was a pretty, charming, caring girl,” says Esther. “She was the kind of woman that everybody loves. When she came into a room, everyone knew Blessing was here.”


Interested in a caring career, Blessing joined an agency and, in September 2020, was sent 60 miles from home to Bexhill, for a week-long stint as a live-in carer.

In touch with her mum and friends every day, she missed home but pal Tobi, who spoke to her hours before she died, said: “She was her normal self, happy and excited.”

Four days into her job, the agency messaged pal Christiana to say Blessing was missing.

Shortly afterwards, two officers knocked on the door and told Esther Blessing had been found dead at 6.20am. Her phone and sandals were found about 300m up the beach from her body.

“I screamed, I shouted, my son rushed downstairs,” she says.

“I tried to dry my face and act as if nothing had happened but he said ‘Mummy I heard, my sister is dead.’

“At that moment, I don’t know what to say any more, I was just crying and holding on to my little one. I couldn’t believe Blessing is dead.”

No help

Esther travelled to Bexhill the next day to the scene of her daughter’s death – and was shocked to find the area empty.

“I expected to see police tape, police officers, notices or something like that because it only happened yesterday,” she says. “But nothing.”

Locals she approached were unaware of the tragedy of the previous day and Esther, finding it impossible to pinpoint the location, asked police to help.

An investigating officer emailed her a map but when she asked him to take her there, he refused. The following day, as she collected her daughter’s belongings from Sussex Police HQ, she asked again but to no avail.

She also told officers she had seen several CCTV cameras which should be checked, but they allegedly maintained there was only one, at a beach cafe, which captured Blessing walking alone.

I expected to see police tape, police officers, notices or something like that… but there was nothing

“He’s treating me like nobody, referring to me as ‘Blessing’,” she says. “I had to say to him ‘I’m not Blessing. I’m Esther. Blessing is my daughter that died.’”

Tanya Jones, Assistant Police Constable with Sussex Police, tells the documentary foul play was quickly ruled out, due to the lack of injury or damage to clothing, explaining the absence of police activity on the beach.

“Whilst I completely understand where the family are coming from, from the evidence we had there was nothing to indicate that a third party was involved in her death,” she says. “That’s why we went down the path of accidental, medical or suicide.”

Unanswered questions

After a postmortem, which showed Blessing had died from drowning, police ruled her death as “unexplained but not suspicious”.

But Esther felt police were too quick to dismiss concerns of a suspicious death and shocked friends questioned what Blessing was doing on a deserted beach in the middle of the night.

With a 22 per cent rise in violence and sexual assault in the Bexhill area, from 49 cases a in September 2019 to 61 in 2020, presenter Linda asks whether she could have been the victim of a failed sexual assault.

Her nails were chipped at the top. Her face was swollen and the wig on her head was not there. She never went anywhere without her wig

Close pal Linda says: “From where she was found to where she was working was a 20 minute walk. Blessing would never walk 20 minutes in the dark. To do what?”

But one of her final texts to Christiana, after midnight, read: “I want to go for a walk. Can you stay on the phone to me please.”

She then changed her mind – texting, “Never mind” at 1.18 am, before sending Esther’s last text five minutes later.

Esther was never asked to identify her daughter but a week after the death, she was told to collect her body for burial.

When she saw her for the first time, she says: “Her nails were chipped at the top. Her face was swollen and the wig on her head was not there. She never went anywhere without her wig.”

She says the wig, which had been attached by glue, was not in Blessing’s possessions.

Friends confirmed Blessing, who was fastidious about her appearance, had immaculate nails in a FaceTime chat the day before.

They also dismissed suggestions of suicide, sparked by mental health issues Blessing had dealt with as a teenager, saying she would “never take her own life”.

'Justice for Blessing'

Esther requested a second postmortem, offering to pay the costs herself, but was refused.

Forensic pathologist Dr Stuart Hamilton suggests the broken nails, not mentioned in the report, could indicate someone scrabbling to get out of water or someone fighting off an attacker.

“The post mortem tells us the end of the story, that she drowned. It doesn’t give us any assistance in knowing what that final chapter that led there was,” he says, adding that there could have been another person there.

But Lifeguard Dean Baker reveals the beach at Bexhill could prove fatal at night, particularly to a non-swimmer, saying it was easy to lose your footing as stones are pulled away by the high tide.

Calls for further investigation intensified after the death of Sarah Everard in March 2021, with social media users claiming police “want to sweep Blessing Olusegun’s death under the rug”.

A Justice4Blessing petition received 70,000 signatures.

As a grieving mother all I ever wanted was answers and on that journey to the truth, to be treated with respect. I felt shut out from that process

Sussex Police released a statement saying there was “no evidence of third party involvement and no evidence of crime” but they were “keeping an open mind”.

“It has been reported that we have not properly investigated Blessing’s death because of her ethnicity and we strongly refute these claims,” they added.

In June 2022, an inquest ruled Blessing’s death was an accident.

However the coroner questioned why the search was limited to the spot the body was found, rather than a wider area, and why no witness appeals were issued.

Felt 'shut out'

Esther hit out at her treatment by the force, saying: “As a grieving mother all I ever wanted was answers and on that journey to the truth, to be treated with respect. I felt shut out from that process.”

She added that she still believes there is “no way of knowing whether someone was on the beach that night with Blessing”.

Although APC Jones says the force “have to follow the evidence we’ve got” she admits detectives should have worked more closely with Esther.

“Not taking Blessing’s mum to where her daughter was found, that would have been incredibly distressing for the family. I am incredibly sorry for that,” she says.

“There are definitely some things we could have done better.”

Esther now wants to honour her “wonderful, caring” daughter by working with Fortress, the charity they helped set up together in 2017.

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“She always cared about other people and wanted to give opportunities to others,” she says.

“We will continue so her name can live on and what she is passionate about can continue.”

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