Leah Croucher: body found in loft of Milton Keynes property confirmed as missing teenager

Officers from Thames Valley Police have confirmed the human remains found in a Milton Keynes property belong to missing teenager Leah Croucher

Human remains found in a loft space at a property in Milton Keynes, have been confirmed as the body of Leah Croucher, Thames Valley Police has said.

Officers launched a murder inquiry after finding human remains in a loft space at a house in Loxbeare Drive, Furzton, last week.

A Home Office post-mortem conducted last week was inconclusive as to the cause of death and the investigation continues.

Leah Croucher has been missing since February 2019 (Photo: PA)Leah Croucher has been missing since February 2019 (Photo: PA)
Leah Croucher has been missing since February 2019 (Photo: PA)

Senior investigating officer Detective Superintendent Kevin Brown, head of the major crime unit, said: “The thoughts of all of us at Thames Valley Police remain and will always be with Leah’s family and friends.

“The entirety of our investigation keeps them uppermost in our minds, and they continue to be supported by specially trained officers and updated on every development. After a difficult process, we are now in a position to formally confirm that the body found in Loxbeare Drive last week is that of Leah.”

Last week the force named sex offender Neil Maxwell, who died in April 2019, two months after Miss Croucher went missing in Febryuary 2019, as the prime suspect in her murder.

Leah was last seen on CCTV in Buzzacott Lane, Furzton in 2019 (Photo: PA)Leah was last seen on CCTV in Buzzacott Lane, Furzton in 2019 (Photo: PA)
Leah was last seen on CCTV in Buzzacott Lane, Furzton in 2019 (Photo: PA)

Officers also found a rucksack and personal items belonging to Ms Croucher at the property. The items were discovered after a tip-off from a member of the public last Monday.

Detective Chief Superintendent Ian Hunter said last week: “Following a call to police on Monday, we attended an address and located items of concern within the property.

“We are dealing with a very difficult scene but we can now confirm that we have discovered a number of items that are linked to Leah, and as such we have now launched a murder investigation, led by our Major Crime Unit.

“Leah’s family have been kept updated and continue to be supported by officers, and we are urging the public and media to think of her family and not to speculate further while this investigation is in the early stages.

“We will provide further updates when we are able to do so. There remains a scene watch in place at the address while this investigation continues, and we are committed to ensuring that our inquiries at the scene are thorough.”

When was Leah Croucher last seen?

Miss Croucher has been missing since 2019 after vanishing while she was walking to work.

The teenager was last seen on CCTV in Buzzacott Lane, Furzton, just after 8.15am on 15 February that year, heading in the direction of Loxbeare Drive and Chaffron Way. This is around 500 metres away from the property in Loxbeare Drive where the teenagers’ personal items have just been found. Miss Croucher’s phone left the network, consistent with it being destroyed, at 8.34am in the area of Furzton Lake.

A large-scale missing person investigation has been ongoing since her disappearance more than three years ago, with police carrying out extensive searches and door-to-door enquiries.

Detective Hunter said hundreds of officers and staff have worked on the search for Miss Croucher in the past three and a half years, scouring 1,200 hours of CCTV and carrying out 4,000 house-to-house inquiries.

In February this year, Detective Chief Inspector Andy Howard, the officer in charge of the case, said on the third anniversary of the teenager’s disappearance: “The lack of information of what’s happened to Leah is actually what gives me, and allows me to retain, some hope; we retain an open mind about what has happened."

The case is now being treated as a murder investigation and police have confirmed that the human remains found at the property belong to Miss Croucher.

Mr Hunter added: “The call from the member of the public that we received on Monday was the first occasion that we were alerted to this address, and we thank them for contacting us immediately to report their concerns. Our thoughts remain with Leah’s family and friends, and we will continue to offer them all the support that they need.”

What have her family said?

The last public comment by her father John Croucher, was on Leah’s birthday - 14 August. In an emotional Facebook post, he said: “Your birthday is here again Leah. But again you are not. For the fourth birthday in a row.

“For us the day is empty, a non event. We should have been out buying balloons and a cake, ready for a family meal out. You never wanted a party, always a low key event preferred. Memories of your 18th birthday came up on Facebook a couple of days ago. Looking at them should bring joy, a chance to reminisce.

“Instead, we avoid looking at them, the pain swells up to the surface, enough to drown us. Where are you sweetheart? How are you? Are you safe? Do you realise how much heartache and despair everyone you have ever known feels at your disappearance?

“We all miss you too much. People are still looking for you Leah. Looking for a clue as to what happened. Tomorrow is exactly three years and six months and one day since we heard your laugh, your voice, since we said goodnight. Since we saw your beautiful face and your amazing smile. That’s too long ago.”