The family of Leah Croucher whose remains were found after going missing in February 2019 have said any hope they had of the teenager being alive had been “brutally extinguished”. Ms Croucher went missing on her way to work at a finance company in Milton Keynes on February 15, 2019. The prime suspect has been named by police as convicted sex offender Neil Maxwell, who was found dead on 20 April 2019 after he took his own life.
In a tribute to their “bright, funny, young” daughter, the family said they knew the “heartbreaking news” of her death would come “one day” but they are “devastated” to have been proven right.
They said: “The deepest, darkest grief that we, Leah’s family and friends are experiencing over the past weeks shows us that glimmer was actually, foolishly, a shining beacon of hope, which has now been brutally extinguished in the cruellest and harshest of ways.
“It has been a long way to fall back to reality.”
The family had been appealing for months prior to the discovery of her remains.
A Home Office post-mortem, which was conducted last week, was inconclusive as to the cause of Leah’s death, Thames Valley Police said in a statement. Investigations are ongoing.
A murder investigation was launched last week following the discovery of Leah in the attic of 2 Loxbeare Drive, Furzton, Milton Keynes.
A number of items belonging to Leah were found in a backpack next to her body.
The 19-year-old girl had last been seen on February 15, 2019, in CCTV footage of Buzzacott Lane, Furzton, an area of Milton Keynes. The day before had been the last time Leah was seen alive by her parents, at her family home at around 10pm.
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It was only on October 10 this year that police received a report from someone who had been doing some work to the house and grew concerned about some of the items inside.
On October 12, Thames Valley Police launched a murder investigation, and the following day Leah’s parents, John and Claire, visited the house where police found human remains, and left a handwritten message nearby reading “our darkest fears have come true”.
Detective Superintendent Kevin Brown, head of the force’s 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.”