Leah Croucher: parents say ‘darkest fears have come true’ after visiting murder inquiry house in Milton Keynes
John and Claire Croucher visited the house where police found human remains
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John and Claire Croucher, along with their daughter Jade, left a handwritten note at a public memorial at the property in Loxbeare Drive in Furzton, Milton Keynes, just before 8pm on Thursday.
Thames Valley Police had moved passers-by standing near the tributes to the opposite side of the road just before they arrived, and the family laid flowers with a note at a public memorial a few minutes later.
The message left from the couple to their daughter, 19, who vanished while walking to work in February 2019, read: “To our darling Leah, our darkest fears have come true, we only need to be apart a little longer.
“We have so missed you for so long already. The future looks so bleak now we know we will never see your smile or hear your laughter again.
“We will cherish your memories forever. We love you. Mum and Dad xxxx”
The couple also left a bouquet with a note from Ms Croucher’s “big sister and nephew Reggie”, reading: “To my beautiful sister Leah. My heart has broken, my mind racing with thoughts and my body numb.
“How can a life as beautiful as yours come to an end in such a tragic way. I have loved you from your first breath, and I will love you until my last.
“There has never been a moment where you were not in my thoughts and there never will be.
“My only comfort now is that you and Haydon are together in heaven. All my love forever.”
A handwritten message signed “Nan and Grandad” also read: “Our darling, we will never stop seeking answers. Will love and miss you always.”
The family’s tributes were laid among dozens of notes, bouquets, candles, teddy bears and tea-lights for Ms Croucher.
Ms Croucher’s family was struck by further tragedy when her brother, Haydon, died at the age of 24 in November 2019.
Murder inquiry ongoing
Forensics experts have been scouring the Milton Keynes property after police found human remains following a tip-off from a member of the public on Monday (10 October).
Officers launched a murder inquiry when they found a rucksack and other personal belongings of Leah’s at the property.
The discovery comes three-and-a-half years after the 19-year-old went missing in February 2019, after vanishing while she was walking to work.
Ms Croucher 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.
The murder inquiry is now focusing on the two-storey brick house which is less than half a mile from where she was last seen, and Thames Valley Police said investigators would be there “for some time”.
A police spokesman said: “Monday was the first time we were alerted to this property by a member of the public in connection with this investigation.
“However, as an address in Furzton, the address was visited as part of our house-to-house inquiries as part of the investigation, during which we visited more than 4,000 addresses.
“There was no response at the property and as such leaflets would have been dropped through the letterbox.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Ian Hunter said on Wednesday said: “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.”
He added that the scene at the house is “difficult and challenging”.
Hundreds of officers and staff have worked on the search for Ms Croucher in the past three-and-a-half years, scouring 1,200 hours of CCTV and carrying out 4,000 house-to-house inquiries.
The search for her has involved specialist police search teams, the mounted section, police dogs, the marine unit and the National Police Air Service.