What happened to Leah Croucher? A timeline of missing teen's disappearance and murder inquiry

Leah Croucher, 19, went missing in Milton Keynes. Credit: Family photo

After a three-year search involving more than 1,200 hours of CCTV footage and 4,000 house-to-house inquiries, detectives searching for missing teenager Leah Croucher have found human remains.

The 19-year-old went missing in February 2019, when she vanished on her way to work.

Police discovered belongings to the teenager at a house in the Furzton area of Milton Keynes on Wednesday, which they have been searching since Monday.

They then confirmed that a murder investigation has been launched after human remains were also found at the house.

ITV News looks back at a timeline of her disappearance.

15 February 2019

Leah leaves her home on Quantock Crescent, Emerson Valley, Milton Keynes, at around 8am to begin her two-mile walk to work - but never shows up.

She is last seen on CCTV on Buzzacott Lane just after 8am, and the last activity on her phone is just after 8.30am.

Leah is reported missing by her parents, John and Claire Croucher, when she fails to return home from work later that evening. They had last seen their daughter at 10pm on Valentine's Day.

Leah Croucher was last seen on CCTV on the morning of Friday 15 2019.

22 February 2019

Leah's parents issue an emotional appeal to find their daughter, after no traces were found in the initial investigation.

In an emotional appeal, they say they are "beside themselves with worry" and that her disappearance is "highly unusual".

8 March 2019

Police release pictures of clothes similar to the ones Leah was wearing on the day she disappeared.

Police released this photo of Leah to help with their investigation.

She was last seen wearing a black coat, skinny black jeans, black Converse shoes and carrying a small black rucksack.

A team of 50 police officers trawled through hours of CCTV footage in the hope of finding out what happened to her.

16 April 2019

Thames Valley Police reveal that Leah may have been seen "angry, upset and crying" by a lake on the day she disappeared.

Three new witnesses reported seeing a woman matching Leah's description between 9.30am and 11.15am on the day she disappeared.

The witnesses were walking by Furzton Lake, close to where she was last seen.

Two of the witnesses were walking together and described a young woman who was "visibly angry, upset and crying".

9 October 2019

Police begin to search the lake at the Blue Lagoon nature reserve in Bletchley, using dive teams, search dogs and drones.

They launched the search after a member of the public described seeing a grey hooded top in the area.

Police searched the lake for over two weeks.

 24 October 2019

Police conclude the operation after two weeks of searching the lake. They find nothing belonging to Leah.

16 November 2019

Leah’s brother Haydon dies, and a coroner later concludes he took his own life.

The ordeal of dealing with his sister's disappearance was one of the reasons cited at his inquest earlier this year.

14 February 2020

A year on from Leah's disappearance, her parents renew their appeal to find their daughter.

They say they are completely broken and are struggling to cope with still not knowing what happened to her.

Leah's father, John Croucher, reveals he knows someone who has vital information about his daughter - and issues them an ultimatum.

"I know for a fact there's a certain person out there that is keeping evidence from the police and it's time for him to give it up now. A year of withholding information - it's not on any more," he says.

"I will name him. If the police don't like it, tough. I will name him if he doesn't come forward soon with the information they need."

Leah Croucher was reported missing on February 15 2019.

23 March 2021

The reward to help find missing Leah doubles to £20,000.

Following a fresh appeal for information on the second anniversary of her disappearance, further offers of financial support are made, putting the reward total at £20,000.

15 February 2022

Police release a new image of Leah on the third anniversary of her death, believed to have been captured on the day she went missing.

The blurry image taken at Furzton Lake shows a person dressed in black, who may or may not have been Leah, on the day she disappeared.

16 March 2022

Police say they have "real optimism" about their investigation, after tracing a dog walker photographed near the lake where Leah went missing.

As a result, they re-release more photographs in the hope of tracking down other people who may be able to help their inquiry into what happened to Leah.

10 October 2022

Thames Valley Police receive a call from a member of the public, alerting them to an address in Loxbeare Drive in Furzton, Milton Keynes.

They begin to search the property.

12 October 2022

Forensics officers arrive at the brick-house in Furzton, and a tent is set up in the front driveway.

Detectives launch a murder investigation after finding human remains.

They also discover items, including a rucksack and personal possessions belonging to Leah Croucher.

Leah's family continue to be kept informed and updated.

13 October 2022

Leah’s parents, John and Claire Croucher, along with their daughter Jade, visit the house where police found human remains, and leave a handwritten message nearby reading “our darkest fears have come true”.

14 October 2022

Police name Neil Maxwell, a handyman who did maintenance at the Loxbeare Drive house, as the prime suspect in the murder of Leah Croucher.

Det Ch Supt Ian Hunter, Thames Valley Police’s head of crime, said: “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.”

He added: “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.”

15 October 2022

Matthew Barber, police and crime commissioner for Thames Valley, says he will call for a review of the force's search for Leah Croucher if he feels mistakes have been made.

But he adds: "I must stress that this will be evidence-led and so far I have seen nothing to suggest any reasonable lines of enquiry were missed."

21 October 2022

Police confirm that the human remains found in the loft of 2 Loxbeare Drive belong to Leah Croucher. A Home Office post-mortem examination has proved inconclusive and further work will be carried out.

Det Supt Kevin Brown, head of Thames Valley Police's major crime unit, pays tribute to the Croucher family, adding: “The grief and shock of Leah’s family and friends is unimaginable, and they have shown enormous courage, patience and dignity over the last three years and eight months while our search for Leah continued."

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