There is one question on peoples’ lips following the news that the Leah Croucher missing person search has tragically turned into a murder investigation.
That question is how, for almost four years, did everybody miss the house now at the very centre of the investigation into the teen’s disappearance?
The £600K four-bed detached home looks like any other executive house on a housing estate, NationalWorld’s sister site the Milton Keynes Citizen reports.
The home stands at the end of Loxbeare Drive, Milton Keynes, close to Furzton Lake. Neighbours have never reported any problems from the address.
Yet it has been revealed that human remains have been found there, along with Leah’s rucksack and personal possessions she was carrying at the time she vanished.
Police say they had never attended the address until a call came from a member of the public on Monday alerting them that something potentially sinister had been discovered there.
This is strange, as undoubtedly this property should have been one of the homes police door-knocked in the days following Leah’s disappearance, when they were desperate to find clues about what had happened to the home-loving and sweet-natured 19-year-old.
Both the Times and MailOnline have now reported that a convicted paedophile, who was jailed in 2017 for sexual offences against two teenagers, used to live in the house. The property’s owners are thought to have rented the home out.
But Thames Valley Police head of crime, Detective Chief Superintendent Ian Hunter, said: “During our search for Leah, we have committed hundreds of officers and staff to the search for Leah over the last three and a half years, reviewing 1,200 hours of CCTV and conducted more than 4,000 house-to-house inquiries and offered several rewards for information to lead us to Leah.”
Of these 4,000 houses, was the house on Loxbeare Drive the vital one that was missed out? Or was nobody in when the officers called and no follow up visit made?
The house is around 500 metres from the last CCTV sighting of Leah, at 8.16am in Buzzacott Lane in Furzton. Less than a mile away from Leah’s Emerson Valley home, it is bang in the middle of the route Leah took each day, walking around Furzton Lake to her workplace in Knowlhill. One former neighbour in Loxbeare Drive remembers the house-to-house police enquiries well.
"It was the week after Leah vanished and an officer knocked on my door. He was a community officer and I recognised him,” she said.
"He asked if I had seen or heard anything on the morning of February 15. I hadn’t. He said he wanted to talk to the man of the house too, but my husband was away on business.
"The officer said he’d come back another time, when my husband was back. He never did return, though, and I always thought it was strange.
"Leah’s disappearance worried me so much that I immediately arranged for security cameras to be fitted on our house. I remember thinking that if they had been fitted at the time, then perhaps we’d know what happened to her.” Later the family moved from the street.
"We felt the area was going downhill a bit. There was an arrest from a place nearby for human trafficking and there were a couple of incidents that sparked alarm. But nothing concerning that house,” said the resident.
One neighbour recalled walking past the house regularly on her way to the lake, but similarly, said there was nothing unusual about the place, other than it didn’t seem like people were living there. Other residents agreed that it hadn’t been regularly occupied for three years.
Olga Kopilova, who lives on the street where officers are conducting investigations, said the owners used it as a “summer house”.
But speaking to ITV News she added that she hadn’t seen them at the property since 2019, which she suggested was probably due to the “Covid” restrictions.
She said: "It was their summer house - they came here every year. We haven’t seen them since 2019, because of the Covid, I guess."
If you saw anything untoward going on at this address, please call police on 101.