October 25, 2022
Leah Croucher was last seen alive on Valentine’s Day, 14 February 2019 at her family home in Quantock Crescent, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom. The following day, February 15, she left the house sometime after 8am to go to work. Leah, who was nineteen years old at the time, worked at a finance company in Milton Keynes.
CCTV from the nearby Buzzacott Lane in Furzton, captured her walking down the street, clad in dark clothing wearing a backpack. Leah never made it to work, nor was she ever seen alive again.
Although she was nineteen when she went missing, Leah looked much younger. Her family described her as shy, quiet, and funny. Leah was said to prefer staying at home in her room watching movies or reading fantasy novels, rather than being part of the nightlife. Although she had competed internationally in taekwondo, she was not a confrontational person and did not like fighting.
During an investigation into her whereabouts, police discovered that Leah had lied to her parents about her plans for Valentine’s Day earlier on the 14th. Leah, who went out that day at around 6pm said she was going to meet a friend, however, this was untrue. Police made an appeal for information to those who knew her to help them piece together a timeline of the 14th, specifically, what Leah had been doing and where she was between 6pm – 7:15pm the day before she went missing.
Cell phone data from the missing girl’s phone revealed that after leaving work on February 14, she took a walk by the eastern side of Furzton Lake in Milton Keynes. At 5:45pm the settings on her phone were changed in what police believed may have been a deliberate attempt to disable location. Leah returned home thereafter, changed into leisure clothes, and told her parents that she was heading out to meet a friend.
Without any leads in Leah Croucher's disappearance, the trail went cold. Leah's older brother, Haydon Croucher, who was several years her senior, was taken to court for threats against a man believed to be Leah's ex-boyfriend. No prosecution was made against Haydon Croucher, and he accepted a voluntary restraining order.
In April that same year, witnesses reported three possible sightings to police on February 15, 2019, at Furzton Lake between 09:30am and 11:15am. Each witness said they witnessed a female, who appeared to be crying and angry, typing on her phone.
The first witness said they spotted the woman around 09:30am and 10:00am using her phone. The other two witnesses, who were together at the time, said they saw a woman who appeared to be angry, upset and crying around 10:00am - 10:15am, and again around 20 minutes later after she had seemingly composed herself, talking on her phone.
Over the course of the investigation, police canvassed 4,000 homes, spoke with over one hundred witnesses, and reviewed 1,200 hours of CCTV footage. They also teamed up with the major crime unit, marine specialists, police air service and mounted police, but turned up no trace of the missing woman.
Eight months later, Thames Valley Police executed a search of the Blue Lagoons Nature Reserve in Bletchley for a total of two weeks, to no avail. Despite their best efforts, no trace of Leah could be found.
A break in the case came earlier this month on October 12, 2022, when Police revealed that they had found a backpack containing Leah Crouchers personal belongings in a house on Loxbeare Drive in Furzton. The home belonged to a deceased sex offender named Neil Maxwell.
Maxwell was forty-nine when he killed himself on April 20, 2019, just two months after Leah Croucher went missing. At the time of his suicide, he was wanted in connection with a sexual assault that occurred in November 2018 in Newport Pagnell, central Milton Keynes.
Maxwell hanged himself in a bin cupboard shared by residents in the block of flats where he was found. He had written a note warning other residents not to enter, but to call police because there was a body inside. Friends of Maxwell’s said he ended his own life because he didn’t want to return to prison.
In December 2018, police attempted to arrest Maxwell a total of eighteen times at several separate addresses around the UK, but were unsuccessful. He is now the main suspect in Leah Croucher’s disappearance.
On October 10, 2022, police received an anonymous tip called in by a member of the public to search a property on Loxbeare Drive, Furzton, less than a mile from the last known whereabouts of Leah Croucher.
The property is believed to belong to Maxwell, and he was the only person with keys to the home. When police searched the property they quickly discovered Leah's belongings. Leah had last been walking in the direction of Loxbeare Drive when she disappeared.
On October 21, 2022, Police announced that they had discovered a body at the Loxbeare Drive property and confirmed that it was that of Leah Croucher. The cause of death has not yet been confirmed as the post-mortem examination was inconclusive.
Detective Superintendent Kevin Brown, the Head of the Major Crime Unit, told the BBC: "Our investigations into Leah's murder will leave no stone unturned, and we owe it to Leah's family to ensure we find the truth. We are absolutely committed to doing so, to allow them to gain an understanding of what happened to Leah."
Leah Croucher's parents left flowers and a heart-breaking note at the scene last week that read: "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."
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