Police hunting for Leah Croucher haven't given up on finding her alive

Police hunting for Leah Croucher say they haven’t given up hope of finding the missing teen alive, three years after she vanished

  • Leah Croucher vanished from Emerson Valley, Milton Keynes, in February 2019
  • The last confirmed sighting of Leah, then 19, was in Furzton on February 15, 2019
  • The investigating officer said he is ‘absolutely committed to finding Leah’

An investigating officer from Thames Valley Police has said that he is ‘absolutely committed’ to finding Leah Croucher, who went missing more than three years ago.

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, February 14 – Valentine’s Day. 

Senior Investigating Officer Detective Chief Inspector Andy Howard, of Thames Valley Police, appealed again for people to come forward to help identify a person pictured at the time.

An investigating officer from Thames Valley Police has said that he is ‘absolutely committed’ to finding Leah Croucher (above), who went missing more than three years ago


Leah, who was 19 years old at the time of her disappearance, was reported missing from Emerson Valley, Milton Keynes by her family on 15th February 2019. They last saw her at 10pm the day before, 14 February, St Valentine’s Day. Pictured: The last known sighting of Leah on February 15

‘We remain absolutely committed to finding Leah and seeking answers for her family,’ he told The Sun.

‘We continue to keep in close contact with Leah’s family, and continue to support them.’

The force has not launched a murder investigation and is still treating it as a missing person case. This could suggest officers are working on the theory that Leah is still alive. 

Criminology Professor David Wilson, from Birmingham City University, told the paper that having CCTV images of Leah on the day she disappeared is ‘significant’. 

‘My own view is at the minute, there is literally no evidence whatsoever that will allow you to rule out hypotheses in terms of what happened to Leah Croucher,’ he said. 

‘Three people if I read correctly, three people saw a woman dressed very similarly to Leah Croucher who was clearly distressed. She was upset about something.

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

Police released these images of a bag and mobile phone, similar to the ones owned by Leah Croucher and which she is believed to have had with her prior to her disappearance 

Police marked the third anniversary of the disappearance of Leah Croucher (pictured) by releasing new images that may help to find out what has happened to her

‘There has been a lot of publicity about women dressed in black, who was was obviously distressed.

‘That woman has never come forward. Nobody has ever come forward. And so my presumption is that is Leah Croucher.’

The professor said people cannot ‘rule things in or out’ in this case. He added that he has confidence in the case, because DCI Howard has been leading the search for Leah since the beginning.

‘I know from my work, that that often isn’t the case,’ he said. ‘Senior investigating officers change on a regular basis on missing persons cases, and that isn’t the case here. That’s gives me a lot of confidence.’  

In February, police hunting for Leah released new images to mark the third anniversary of her disappearance.

One image from Furzton Lake, near to Leah’s home in Milton Keynes, shows the figure of a person dressed in black, who may or may not have been Leah, on the day she was reported missing.

Another shows a number of people, who detectives would like to speak to, as they believe they might be able to help the investigation.

Leah was last seen on CCTV down Buzzacott Lane in Furzton, while on her way to work on the morning of February 15, 2019, before she ‘effectively vanished into thin air’. The last activity on her phone was just after 8.30am that day.

Despite a wide-scale investigation in which police visited 4,000 properties and reviewed 1,200 hours of CCTV, no trace of her has been found and no one has been arrested in connection with the case. 

Speaking earlier this year, DCI Howard said he hoped the new images would prompt more people to come forward with ‘potentially vital’ information.

Leah’s family issued an emotional statement to mark the third anniversary of her 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.

February 15

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.

February 17

Police issue a press release saying Leah is missing. 

February 19 

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.

September 25 

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.

October 9 

Police launch a major search at the Blue Lagoon. Nothing of any significance is found.

November 14-16 

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.

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,’ her parents John and Claire Croucher said in the statement.

‘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 Claire Croucher 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 Claire and her husband John Croucher said they feared someone may have taken Leah as they questioned why she would ‘just disappear’.

The search for Leah has seen officers visit more than 4,000 homes in Milton Keynes, while officers have deployed specialist search teams, drones and helicopters.

Marine units and dive teams have conducted searches of lakes across the town but police say they have found no items relating to the missing woman.

Alongside the images released this year, which show a black figure beside Furzton Lake, police also released an image of a woman with a dog they would like to speak to as part of their investigation.  

DCI Howard said: ‘The image we are releasing today is not of a high quality, but I am hoping that somebody will recognise themselves as being in this picture.

‘I am keen to hear from the group of people in this image; it may be that you regularly walk in this area and will recognise yourselves.

‘I would also like to hear from the person in the image walking her dog. 

‘If you have not already got in touch with the police, I would urge you to do so, as you may have a vital piece of information that would be key to this investigation.

‘I’m am particularly keen to identify the person seen in the image who is dressed in black.

‘This photograph was taken at 10.51am on the morning of 15 February 2019. 

‘It is not possible from the image to say whether or not the person dressed in black is Leah but we have witnesses in the area of the lake at around this time who describe seeing a young female in black clothing who is described as appearing distracted or upset, and possibly using her phone.

‘Despite previous appeals, we have so far been unable to establish the identity of this female and so if you believe this was you or you know who it is, please contact the police.’

‘Were you in the area of Furzton Lake between 10.45am and 11.30am on that morning?

‘I know this was three years ago, but this image was taken the day after Valentine’s Day, and just prior to the school half-term break, and so it may be that you remember being in the area, or you walk in this area regularly.’

The police said Leah’s disappearance remains a mystery and they remain determined to seek the answers for her family and friends.

DCI Howard continued: ‘I would again like to appeal directly to the people of Milton Keynes, particularly if you live, commute or exercise in the areas that Leah used on a regular basis.

‘As we know, Leah walked to work in Knowlhill most mornings. On Friday 15 February she was seen on CCTV in Buzzacott Lane, Furzton at 8.16am, so we know for certain that she walked that way. 

‘We would expect her walking route to have taken her past Tellytubby Hill on Dulverton Drive. 

‘From that point we believe that Leah would have either taken a route north around Furzton Lake or along Loxbeare Drive into Shenley Lodge and north along Faraday Drive.

Leah Croucher’s mother Claire speaking to media at Milton Keynes Police Station in 2020

John and Claire speaking to media at Milton Keynes Police Station in 2020, as they plead for information one year on from her disappearance

‘This area is a well populated residential area with people commuting, doing the school run or exercising. Given how busy the area is I find it hard to believe that this CCTV clip of Leah at 8.16am is the last time that we know she was seen.

‘At around this time a witness saw a female matching Leah’s description walking past Tellytubby Hill, approximately 150 yards after the sighting in Buzzacott Lane. 

‘From the information the witness provided we believe it is likely that it is Leah, however as Leah is not known to the witness it is not possible to say with certainty.

‘But this is a busy area and therefore it is highly likely that other people will have seen this same female and we are keen to hear from you.

Pictured: Leah Croucher (right) with her sister Jade

‘We know that the day before Leah’s disappearance she took a route (to work?) which led her from Dulverton Drive and along Loxbeare Drive, under H7 Chaffron Way. 

‘She then took a combination of Faraday Drive and the adjacent redways through Shenley Lodge and into Knowlhill.

‘However it appears that this was not the route Leah took to work on 15 February. It is for this reason we are appealing to the people who are local to these areas, and feel that there could still be someone out there with information we need.

‘I genuinely believe that there are people in the area that morning who will have seen Leah and who can help the investigation.’

Anyone who has information that could lead to the force locating Leah Croucher, is asked to contact 101 quoting reference number 43190049929, or Operation Dawlish.

Information can also be left via a dedicated website for the investigation, at mipp.police.uk.

There is a £20,000 reward for information that leads to Leah being found.

Family of Leah Croucher issued a statement on the third anniversary of her disappearance 

The parents of Leah Croucher, John and Claire, released a statement on the third anniversary of her disappearance from Milton Keynes.

It reads: ‘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. Today we get our treasured daughter back.

‘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. Each day feels like an eternity of pain and despair.

‘Our family read everything that is written about Leah, both in the press and on social media. We are aware of the fake profiles that have been made claiming that Leah was pregnant and has run away, aware of the speculation that she is buried on farmland on Eaton Bray, aware that people are saying that she ran after married, older Muslim men as she had a thing for them.

‘We find this upsetting, hurtful and disrespectful. None of this is true, all of it is vicious rumour and speculation.

‘We would appreciate that if people have nothing pleasant to say, that they say nothing at all. Our daughter has done nothing to deserve this and neither have her family who are forced to tolerate this vile behaviour.

‘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.

‘We ask you to search your phones for pictures taken on the evening of 2 February 2019 outside the Jury’s Inn/Travel Lodge and the morning of 15 February 2019, in the Furtzon area.

‘Search your memories to see if you can remember one thing that may help the police in their search.

‘Please contact the police with anything you know, even if it seems small and insignificant. You are our only hope, you always have been.

‘Leah, we only want to know you are safe and well. All you have to do is walk into a police station and tell them who you are and ask them to pass the message onto us that you want to stay away, you choose to remain apart from all who love and cherish you, that you do not want to come home.

‘Please, we miss you so much. We are so worried about you. If you left us all that day, please let us know that it was your choice, because until that day happens, we will not stop.

‘We will continue with the social media posts, the TV, radio and press interviews, the begging for news and information.

‘We love you too much to give up and stop looking for answers.

‘#comehomeLeah’

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