PICTURED: Leah Croucher suspect is DEAD
Leah Croucher suspect is DEAD: Convicted sex offender, 49, suspected of murdering teenager had keys to property where Leah’s remains and backpack were found in the loft – but killed himself in 2019
Neil Maxwell, the convicted sex offender suspected of killing Leah Croucher
Police today sensationally named the man suspected of murdering Leah Croucher as a convicted sex offender who had keys to the property where human remains were found in the loft – but killed himself in 2019.
Neil Maxwell had been employed by the owner of the house to carry out maintenance work and was the only person who had access around the time the 19-year-old disappeared on February 15, 2019.
Shockingly, at the time Maxwell was being hunted for an alleged sexual assault in Newport Pagnell in November 2018. Thames Valley Police made 18 attempts to arrest him but he was able to evade them.
He was found dead on April 20, 2019 after having taken his own life.
Detective Chief Superintendent Ian Hunter told a news conference: ‘Today, I am able to confirm that we have nominated a suspect in this case. His name is Neil Maxwell.
‘It is unusual to name a suspect, but we have also learned this week that during the time when Leah went missing, and whilst the owner of the property was not in the UK, Maxwell was the only person to have keys to the property.
‘Maxwell had been employed by the home owner to carry out some property maintenance at the house. We now know that Maxwell had keys to this property from November 2018.
‘Whilst Maxwell has been nominated as a suspect, this does not mean he is guilty of any offence. We will keep an open mind, and our detailed investigation will seek to gather sufficient evidence to establish the truth. This may or may not implicate or exonerate Maxwell or any other persons from the investigation.
‘Maxwell has previous convictions for sexual offences against females and was wanted in connection with a sexual assault in Newport Pagnell in November 2018.
‘The sexual assault was reported to Bedfordshire Police on 29 November 2018 and the case was transferred to Thames Valley Police the same day.
‘We first attempted to arrest Maxwell in connection with the sexual assault the following day, 30 November 2018, at an address in central Milton Keynes, but Maxwell was not present.
‘During this time, we established that Maxwell was at an unknown location in Scotland at one stage, but further arrest attempts were continually made throughout the UK at various different addresses.
‘Maxwell knew he was wanted in connection with the sexual assault and was travelling across the UK and making concerted efforts to evade arrest, including using false names and changing his mobile phone and vehicles.
‘He is likely to have known that he would be returning to prison if he was arrested and convicted.
‘Thames Valley police shared Maxwell’s name with other police forces on the Police National Computer in December 2018.
‘We also published a public wanted appeal to find Maxwell on 4 April 2019, but Maxwell was found dead on 20 April 2019 having taken his own life.
‘A significant amount of enquiries were made nationally to locate Maxwell and these included 18 attempts to arrest him.
‘In April 2019, when we published our wanted appeal regarding Maxwell in connection with the sexual assault in Newport Pagnell, and during our entire investigation to find Leah, there has been no direct link between Maxwell and Leah until Monday this week when we were called about the property in Loxbeare Drive.
‘If Maxwell were alive today, we would be seeking his arrest in connection with this investigation, so he could be interviewed under caution to provide his account.’
Leah’s sister Jade, father John Croucher and mother Claire Croucher look at flowers outside a property in Loxbeare Drive, Furzton, Milton Keynes, where police have identified human remains during forensic examinations in the search for the missing teenager
Notes for ‘our darling Leah’ from her parents and sister are left outside the house where police found a body in the search for the missing teenager. The remains were removed last night
Leah Croucher was 19 when she disappeared on her way to work in February 2019. Police have now discovered human remains at a house in Milton Keynes, along with some of Leah’s possessions
The family of Leah Croucher bring floral tributes to the property last night. Her relatives have said their ‘darkest fears had come true’ after human remains were found on Monday
Members of the Croucher family are let under a cordon by police after arriving at the property
A tribute from Leah’s father John Croucher and mother Claire Croucher outside the house
Various flowers, candles and teddy bears have all been left at the scene, many addressed directly to Leah
A bouquet and wreath laid on behalf of Leah’s parents were accompanied by a handwritten note, which promised to ‘fight ahead’ for justice
Police have thanked the local community who have remained supportive throughout the investigation and have also laid flowers and teddy bears at the scene
Leah Croucher’s bereft parents last night visited the house where her body was found as police failed to make any arrests or name any suspects in the 96 hours since estate agents apparently made the horrifying discovery inside.
Her family said their ‘darkest fears had come true’ after human remains were found in a Milton Keynes house on Monday – less than half a mile from where she went missing in 2019.
Claire Croucher could be heard sobbing loudly behind a black screen as police carried the remains to a waiting undertakers’ car. A post-mortem will begin today, the Home Office has said.
Claire and her husband John had arrived unannounced to see their daughter’s body taken from the house – over three years since her disappearance. Leah’s sister Jade said in a note left at the shrine to her sister: ‘How can a life as beautiful as yours come to an end in such a tragic way’.
Today, a neighbour said that her CCTV had recorded the moment two men – who appeared to be estate agents – appeared to find the body on Monday.
Olga Kopilova said that her security system saw the two men entering the house next door. Olga said they appeared to contact a third man, who arrived at the property with ladders. Police arrived a short time later, she said.
Speaking to MailOnline, Olga said: ‘No one ever went to the house and it had been empty for three years. Our CCTV captured two men in suits walking into the house. A little bit later another man came in a white car. He parked right outside the house and he had a ladder. That is all the CCTV shows.’
Olga said police had taken away the CCTV as part of their investigation. She added: ‘It is very upsetting to know what was in that house.’
At 2pm today police are set to give an update on their investigation, which appears to be focused on the attic of the house which, according to the Land Registry is owned by the Al-Omer family, who neighbours say are from Kuwait but live in Dubai.
The Al-Omers stayed at the property months after she vanished but there is no suggestion they are involved in her disappearance and they only used the house once a year as a ‘summer house’, neighbours told The Times.
The newspaper also reports there is CCTV showing the moment her body was found. Two men, believed to be estate agents, had arrived on Monday and her belongings including a backpack were reportedly found inside.
A third man was called and arrived with ladders, shortly before the police swept in. The attic and ceiling are being worked on by forensics teams, where the remains were believed to have been hidden.
It came as Thames Valley Police are yet to arrest anyone – or publicly identify any suspects – but they have ruled out a convicted paedophile who lived in the detached home in Buckinghamshire because he was locked up at the time.
Alex Johnston, 30, was jailed for four-and-a-half years in June 2017 after pleading guilty to five counts of engaging in sexual activity with a girl aged between 13 and 15. He was not released from prison until eight months after Leah disappeared.
Dozens of tributes have been left after Leah’s disappearance shocked the local community, many accompanied by a handwritten note
Home CCTV captured Leah Croucher as she walked to work on the morning of February 15, 2019
Timeline of missing Leah Croucher’s disappearance
February 14, 2019
8am: Leah, 19, sets off for work as normal to her admin job with finance company in Milton Keynes.
5.45pm: Leah walks home from work. The location settings on her Samsung phone were switched off in the Furzton Lake area.
6pm: Leah arrives home from work. She changes into tracksuit bottoms and a long-sleeved top. She tells her mum she is going to visit a friend.
7.15pm: Leah arrives home again. Her behaviour that night was totally normal, say her parents.
8am: Leah gets up and leaves for work. She sets off on her normal route, wearing a black coat, skinny black jeans, black Converse high top shoes and carrying a small black rucksack. Underneath her coat she wears a distinctive grey hoodie.
8.13am: CCTV footage shows her walking along Buzzacott Lane in Furzton. That was the last confirmed sighting of Leah.
8.34am: Leah’s mobile phone is switched off.
9am: Leah fails to arrive at work.
9.30am – 11.15am: Three different witnesses report seeing a girl matching Leah’s description walking by Furzton Lake. She was looking ‘visibly upset’ and crying while talking on the phone. Police have never been able to say definitely that this was Leah.
6pm: Leah fails to return home. She is reported missing.
Police issue a press release saying Leah is missing.
Police release the CCTV footage of Leah. They are becoming ‘increasingly concerned’ for her welfare. Her phone is switched off and cannot be traced and her bank account has not been touched.
In the following weeks divers scour Furzton Lake and fingertip searches are carried out. Leah’s family and friends put posters up appealing for information.
BBC’s Crimewatch Roadshow re-enacts Leah’s disappearance and appeals for information. It shows the clothing Leah was wearing on the day she vanished.
Viewer contacts the show saying she and remembers walking at the Blue Lagoon lake in Bletchley, Milton Keynes in February and seeing a grey hoodie just near the water, like the one Leah was wearing.
Police launch a major search at the Blue Lagoon. Nothing of any significance is found.
Leah’s brother Haydon Croucher killed himself in his flat in Bletchley, Milton Keynes, and was found by his mother and sister.
February 14, 2020
Leah’s parents Claire and John Croucher issue a fresh appeal at a media conference at Milton Keynes Police Station a year after her disappearance.
February 15, 2021
Her family issue a statement appealing for help to find her on the second anniversary of her disappearance.
In an emotional statement they said: ‘It’s now been two years since our beautiful, wonderful daughter Leah, left for work and vanished without a trace. Missing. Gone.
‘To say they have been a hard two years is an understatement. They have been the longest and toughest two years of our lives.’
February 15, 2022
Police release a new image of a person dressed in black seen at Furzton Lake to mark the third year of her disappearance.
In a written statement Leah’s family said each day ‘feels like an eternity of pain and despair’, but said they remained hopeful she would one day be found.
‘It is harder each day to tell ourselves that today will be the day that we get answers, today we find out what happened three years ago,’ her parents said.
Monday October 10, 2022
Remains, believed to be Leah, are found in a house in Loxbeare Drive, Milton Keynes, which she passed every day on her way to work. Her belongings were found inside.
After dark last night Leah’s family arrived to tearfully lay tributes to a beloved daughter and sister. An undertaker carried a bouquet of flowers as he then accompanied the parents to a makeshift memorial at the front of the house which is at the centre of the police investigation.
A note left with the flowers read: ‘To our darling Leah. Our darkest fears have come true, we only need to be apart a little longer now.
‘We have so missed you for so long already. The future looks so bleak now. We know we will never see hour smile or hear your laughter again. We will cherish your memories for ever. We love you, Mum and dad’.
Another note, by Leah’s elder sister Jade, read: ‘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 very first breath and I will love you until my last. There has never been a moment when you were not in my thoughts and there never will be.
‘My only comfort is that you and Hayden are together in heaven. All my love forever your big sister Jade and nephew Reggie.’
Last night the remains of the body were taken away in a three-car convoy. Police had sealed off Loxbeare Drive to traffic while the family were at the scene.
A spokesman for the Home Office has confirmed that a post-mortem will take place today, but warned that it ‘might take some time’, and identification of the remains is still a while away.
They have not been officially identified as of yet, but Leah’s backpack and other belongings were discovered at the property, prompting loved ones of Leah to begin leaving tributes at the site, which was on her regular walk to work.
She was last captured on CCTV on her way to her job on February 15, 2019, but never made it to work.
Police were alerted to the significance of the property by a member of the public who provided information on Monday.
Well-wishers have laid flowers, candles, teddy bears and tea-lights in the shape of the letter L at the edge of the police tape cordoning off the two-storey brick house and its neighbouring detached property.
Flowers left at the scene by friends of Mr and Mrs Croucher on their behalf had a heart-wrenching handwritten note which promised to ‘never give up fighting’ for their daughter.
It comes as metal fencing covered with black screens was erected in the driveway of the empty £490,000 house, just a 20-minute walk from Leah’s home and less than half a mile from where the teenager was last seen.
A group of mourners visited the house, which remains cordoned off, earlier yesterday. They laid a wreath of roses and carnations alongside a handwritten note in black that said: ‘Our beautiful darling Leah.
‘While our hopes and dreams to find you safe and well have been stolen from us, a new hope for answers and justice is now part of the fight ahead.
‘We promise you with all of our hearts that we will never ever give up fighting. Our love always and for ever.’ The note was not signed.
Another small bouquet was signed ‘Nan and Grandad.’ It read: ‘We will never stop seeking answers. With love and miss you always.’
They were laid by a group of mourners of various ages, including two children, who were clearly upset and did not want to speak.
Another message among floral tributes read: ‘Leah, sleep tight darling. You are at peace now.’
Another member of the public wrote: ‘Rest easy Leah, taken far too soon. Time for your parents to take you home baby girl. All our condolences.’
Ever since she disappeared in 2019, Leah’s distraught parents and sister Jade have done everything possible to keep her in the public eye and step up the campaign to find her.
Tragically, nine months after she went missing, Leah’s half-brother Haydon Croucher, 24, was discovered by his mother Tracey Furness hanged at his flat and later died in hospital – landing the family a further blow. An inquest heard he struggled to cope following her disappearance.
Leah’s mother previously said her disappearance had ‘destroyed’ their family, adding that if she had been abducted or killed they would hold the culprit responsible for Haydon’s death as well. ‘He obviously, as everybody knows, he couldn’t cope, he found it very difficult,’ she said.
In a statement released, Thames Valley Police said its specialist teams and forensic officers remained at the property and expected to do so for several weeks.
The statement said: ‘We are dealing with a difficult and challenging scene and are conducting our investigations thoroughly and with dignity, ensuring that all of our actions are carried out in a respectful manner.
‘A Home Office post-mortem examination is expected to take place on Friday, although this may take some time, as will the formal identification of the deceased person located inside the property.
Detective Chief Superintendent Ian Hunter, Thames Valley Police’s head of crime, said: ‘Leah’s family and friends remain uppermost in our thoughts at this extremely difficult time.
‘We are continuing to keep them updated on any developments, and we would again ask the media to respect their privacy.
‘I would also like to thank the local community for their support and patience while our investigation continues.
‘Naturally, there is a thirst for information, and I can reassure both the media and the community, that when we are able to, we will provide updates publicly.
‘Our major crime unit have launched a murder investigation as a result of our findings this week, and as such, I would again like to appeal to anybody who may have any information around the disappearance of Leah to please get in contact with us.
‘It may be that you have had information over the last three years and eight months that you did not consider relevant.
‘If you have, I would urge you to contact Thames Valley Police on 101 or online, no matter how insignificant you believe this information to be.
‘You can also call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
‘We are absolutely committed to finding out what has happened to Leah. As a community, who have been so supportive since Leah’s disappearance, I know you want to help as well, and I thank the many people who have got in touch during the course of our investigations.’
Metal screens were erected this afternoon to stop photographs being taken of the body being carried to a waiting van. Earlier, a yellow collapsible stretcher was taken into the property. Detectives had attempted to conceal it as they removed it from a van parked outside the house.
It comes after Thames Valley Police revealed that they did not search the home when Leah vanished, and instead of pursuing efforts to get inside had simply put a leaflet about her disappearance through the letterbox – meaning this Monday was the first time that any officer from the force had finally stepped over the threshold of the four-bedroom property.
An aerial view of the house in Furzton, Milton Keynes where police have found human remains
Leah Croucher, 19, was last seen making her way into work in Milton Keynes in February 2019
Forensic teams are seen in protective gear going into the property
Flowers are laid earlier this morning outside the home where a body was found in the hunt for missing Leah Croucher
The paedophile whose old house is at the centre of the Leah Croucher murder investigation features in a real-life TV crime documentary. He was in prison when she disappeared, police sources say
People view flowers and messages left at the scene after police identified human remains in Furzton, Milton Keynes
Police have launched a murder investigation after finding human remains in their search for missing teenager Leah Croucher
Leah vanished in Milton Keynes over three and a half years ago. Pictured are police at the scene this morning
It has emerged that the £490,000 house, which the teenager is thought to have regularly walked past on her way to work, was once occupied by a convicted paedophile. Pictured: Floral tributes are left outside the property
Personal items including Leah Croucher’s rucksack have been recovered from the address
Haydon Croucher was found hanging in his flat in Bletchley, Milton Keynes, nine months after Leah disappeared. He was rushed to hospital where he died two days later. Pictured: His family holding his hand as he lay in his hospital bed
A spokesman for the force said: ‘Monday was the first time we were alerted to this property by a member of the public in connection with this investigation. As such, we can confirm that the house has never been entered as part of the original investigation.
A HOUSE JUST A 20-MINUTE WALK FROM LEAH’S FAMILY HOME
The detached home where human remains were found is owned by a Kuwaiti based family who have rented it out for over two decades.
Local residents missing teenager Leah Croucher would walk past the home every day on her way to work as an admin assistant.
The 19-year-old lived less than half a mile away from the £490,000 home where human remains along with her rucksack and other possessions were found.
Forensic teams continued to work at the property which has a rusting truck parked in the driveway.
Jill Davey, who lives close to the house, said: ‘Leah used to walk past the house every day. I would see her walking to work.
‘It just sickens me… The police were meant to have searched all the houses around here, but they obviously didn’t do their job properly.
‘I just hope they can find whoever did this.’
Records show the four-bedroom detached home was rented to a number of tenants.
One neighbour said:’ It has been empty for quite a few months. I never knew the people who owned the house, but like a lot of properties it was a family from Kuwait.
‘We would see a gardener at the property occasionally, but no one else. We did not speak to the people.’
The house is on an estate that was built in 1992 in the Furzton area of Milton Keynes.
Murder squad detectives were talking to close neighbours to find out as much detail as possible about the tenants who rented the house.
A small group of neighbours stood opposite the police blue tape that had sealed off the house.
A blue tent had been erected adjacent to the front door.
One resident said: ‘Anyone who lives on the estate remembers Leah going missing and the police search.
‘I would never have thought that she would be found in a house on the estate. She was so close to home.’
A missing poster for Leah Croucher is still pinned to a tree less than 15 yards from the property.
‘However, as an address in Furzton, the address was visited as part our house-to-house enquiries 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.’
It is not yet clear if anyone was living in the rented property in February 2019, but it is understood to have been empty for years until the latest developments.
Police have said they had never ‘been alerted’ to the house previously as part of their investigation.
But a neighbour on the same road said when Leah disappeared his own house had been visited twice by the police, who had even searched his garden.
According to sources, much of the forensic work has been focused on one of the ceilings of the home.
Wall boards were seen being carried from the property and a blue-coloured forensic tent was erected in the front garden.
Leah’s parents spoke in February, on the third anniversary she went missing: ‘It has been three long, desolate, years since our beautiful and wonderful daughter Leah, vanished without a trace on her way to work. We still have no answers as to why. No clues as to what happened. No idea as to where or how she is.
‘It is impossible to stay positive after all this time. It was difficult at the start of this but now, the task is so futile, our lives are so bleak. It is harder each day to tell ourselves that today will be the day that we get answers, today we find out what happened three years ago.’
Leah was described by loved ones as ‘very quiet’ and ‘not really an outgoing type of person’, preferring to read fantasy fiction or watch DVDs in her room than nights out at the pub. She had competed internationally in taekwondo but her father said she was ‘not a fighter’.
The property where the remains were found is just a 20-minute walk from Leah’s own address and neighbours said the teenager would often walk through the street.
Records show the house, built as part of the estate in 1992, has been owned by a Kuwaiti family for two decades and has been rented out to a number of tenants over the years.
A Thames Valley Police spokesman said: ‘Following information received from a member of the public on Monday… specialist officers and forensic teams attended the location.
‘As a result of an ongoing detailed forensic search of the property, a number of items have been located.
‘During the search we have found items, including a rucksack and personal possessions belonging to Leah Croucher, who was reported missing on February 15, 2019.
‘As a result of our findings, Thames Valley Police have now launched a murder investigation. This is a complex and challenging scene, which we have been at since just after 6.30pm on Monday.
An aerial view of forensic and police officers outside the property in Loxbeare Drive, Furzton, Milton Keynes
‘We will continue to be at the scene for a significant period of time.
‘A large-scale missing person investigation has been ongoing for the last three-and-a-half years, with extensive searches and house-to-house enquiries.’
Detective Chief Superintendent Ian Hunter said: ‘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 enquiries at the scene are thorough.
‘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.
‘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.’
Following the update on the investigation, Ben Everitt, Conservative MP for Milton Keynes North, said he hoped it could ‘provide some answers to Leah’s loved ones’.
‘My thoughts continue to be with Leah’s family and friends at this incredibly difficult time,’ he said.
A faded Thames Valley Police missing person sign with a £5,000 reward, probably from the time that Leah disappeared, was still tacked to a tree just yards from the suburban property where the human remains were found.
The sign was a short distance from the police cordon where forensic experts appeared to be at work building a structure in the back garden of the house.
The appeal sign, complete with three photographs of the teenager, featured the hashtag ‘come home Leah’.
It was still tacked to a tree with rusted nails and read: ‘As usual, Leah got up after her parents left for work.
‘She followed her normal routine including leaving home at her normal time and walking the route that she took to work in Knowlhill, approximately two miles away.’
It added: ‘Leah did not call in sick to work. She took no money or clothes. She told no one she was planning on running away from home or where she was going.’
It also describes her as white, 5ft 2ins tall, of slim build and with shoulder-length brown hair.
Leah was last seen in a black coat, black skinny jeans, all black high-top Converse trainers, a grey hoodie featuring the Stewartby Taekwondo logo and carrying a small black rucksack.
The property is just under half a mile from where she was last seen on CCTV in Buzzacott Lane, Furzon, just after 8.15am in February 2019.
She was walking in the direction of Loxbeare Drive and Chaffron Way while on her way to work in the morning before she ‘effectively vanished into thin air’.
Despite a wide-scale investigation in which police visited 4,000 properties, sent divers into Furzton Lake and reviewed 1,200 hours of CCTV, no trace of Leah was ever found and no one has been arrested in connection with the case.
Police previously called the case ‘bewildering and frustrating’, and said they retained an ‘open mind’ but ‘the potential that Leah is no longer alive has to increase’.
Detective Chief Inspector Andy Howard said ‘we’ve had no confirmed sightings of Leah’ since the time of her disappearance.
Leah, who was 19 at the time of her disappearance, was reported missing from Emerson Valley, Milton Keynes, by her family on February 15, 2019. They last saw her at 10pm the day before.
In February, Leah’s family issued an emotional statement to mark the third anniversary of her disappearance.
Leah is seen on CCTV shortly before she went missing. The teenager was last spotted walking down Buzzacott Lane in Furzton, Buckinghamshire, while on her way to work on the morning of February 15, 2019 before she ‘vanished into thin air’
One image from Furzton Lake, shows a figure of a person dressed in black, who may or may not have been Leah, on the day she disappeared
Various posters were released to try and find the teenager after she went missing in February 2019
Hayden Croucher, pictured with his sister Leah, killed himself months after her disappearance after telling a therapist he was finding it difficult to cope
In a written statement, issued through Thames Valley Police, Leah’s family said each day ‘feels like an eternity of pain and despair’, but said they remained hopeful she would one day be found.
‘It is harder each day to tell ourselves that today will be the day that we get answers, today we find out what happened three years ago,’ Mr and Mrs Croucher said.
‘It is unimaginable to convince ourselves that this is not a lie we tell ourselves so that we get out of bed each day. Each day is torture.
‘It is inconceivable not to worry every second of every single day. Sleep feels an elusive character each night, waking each morning we never feel rested and refreshed.
‘Each time the phone rings or there is a knock at the front door, our hearts still leap in our chests.
‘That familiar surge of hope springing up in our throats. That familiar wave of despair that crashes over our very souls each time.
‘It is not the police or Leah herself knocking at the door or calling on the phone.
‘Again, we ask for the public’s help. You have all been so wonderful so far, still helping us search every face in the streets to see if they are Leah, still sharing on social media, still reporting possible sightings to the police.’
The night before she went missing, Leah left her home in Milton Keynes between 6pm and 7.15pm. She told her mother she was seeing a friend.
The police found out she never saw the friend and they do not know where she went or who she was with – or whether she met anyone that night.
Her parents last saw her when she went to bed, with her mother Claire previously saying it was ‘the last time I got to say goodnight’.
Last year her parents said they feared someone may have taken Leah as they questioned why she would ‘just disappear’.
In April, DCI Howard said: ‘We remain absolutely committed to finding Leah and seeking answers for her family.’
The following month, an appeal for information about Leah’s whereabouts was featured on digital billboards across London.
Alongside the tragedy of Leah’s disappearance, Leah’s family also suffered the tragic death of her brother Haydon, who was found hanged in November 2019.
The 24-year-old died after telling a therapist he was finding it difficult to cope with his sister’s disappearance. Haydon was brought to Milton Keynes hospital for assessment for admission by his therapist Chantelle Tillison. But there were no beds available and he was sent home. He was found hanging in his flat in Bletchley, Milton Keynes, nine months after Leah disappeared, by his mother Mrs Furness.
He was rushed to hospital where he died two days later on November 16, 2019, Milton Keynes coroner’s court heard in 2020.
After his inquest, his mother warned there was ‘still a lot to learn’ from her son’s suicide.
In a statement issued through her solicitors Mrs Furness in 2020, she said: ‘The family considers the Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust still have a lot to learn from the avoidable death of Haydon and others before him.’
Meanwhile, Leah’s sister Jade issued an appeal in July 2019, four months after her disappearance, for Leah to come home.
She said: ‘It would be lovely if she messaged me on her birthday. Every day I wake up with the hope that we will get a little bit of a breakthrough that Leah is safe and well. I’m constantly checking my phone, but so far there has been nothing.’
The detached home where human remains were found is owned by a Kuwaiti-based family who have rented it out for over two decades.
Leah Croucher’s mother Claire speaking to media at Milton Keynes Police Station in 2020
John and Claire Croucher speak to media at Milton Keynes Police Station in 2020, as they plead for information one year on from her disappearance
Pictured: Leah Croucher (right) with her elder sister Jade (left)
Jill Davey, who lives close to the house, said:’ Leah used to walk past the house every day. I would see her walking to work.
‘It just sickens me that she was so close to her home. The police were meant to have searched all the houses around here, but they obviously didn’t do their job properly.
‘I just hope they can find whoever did this.’
For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch, see www.samaritans.org for details.
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