Rebecca Haworth reports from the home where detectives searching for Leah Croucher have found human remains.
Detectives investigating the disappearance of Leah Croucher have launched a murder investigation after finding human remains.
The 19-year-old was last seen by her family on Valentine's Day in 2019, and was reported missing the next day.
Police discovered belongings to the teenager at a house in the Furzton area of Milton Keynes, which police have been searching since Monday.
They confirmed at 2pm on Wednesday that human remains had also been found at the house.
"During our forensic examinations at the scene in Loxbeare Drive, we have identified human remains," said a spokesman.
"The forensic examination continues and will do for some time. It is likely to take some time to formally identify the deceased.
"Leah’s family continue to be kept informed and updated."
On Wednesday they cordoned the house off and erected a tent in the front driveway, with a heavy presence of forensics officers.
A spokesman said a detailed forensic search of the property had uncovered several items.
"During the search we have found items, including a rucksack and personal possessions belonging to Leah Croucher, who was reported missing on 15 February 2019," they said.
"As a result of our findings, Thames Valley Police have now launched a murder investigation."
Leah was last seen on 14 February 2019 and reported missing the following day by her family, who have since made repeated appeals for information.
Det Ch Supt Ian Hunter, head of crime for Thames Valley Police, said: “We are dealing with a very difficult scene but we can now confirm that we have discovered a number of items that are linked to Leah, and as such, we have now launched a murder investigation, led by our major crime unit.
“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."
He said the scene would be guarded as the investigation continued.
“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."
What happened to Leah Croucher?
Leah Croucher was last seen on the morning of 15 February 2019, when she left her home in Milton Keynes to head to work.
She was last seen on CCTV on Buzzacott Lane just after 8am, and the last activity on her phone was just after 8.30am that day. The teenager was reported missing by her parents, John and Claire, later that evening, after she failed to return home.
Thames Valley Police launched a huge missing person operation, but multiple searches of the Furzton Lake and the nearby Blue Lagoon produced no results.
Ms Croucher 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 to nights out at the pub.
She had competed internationally in taekwondo but her father said she was “not a fighter”.
Leah's parents made an emotional appeal on the third anniversary of her disappearance
Over the years her family and police have issued appeals for information, including a new photograph in February, nearly three years on from her disappearance.
In February her parents told ITV News Anglia that their hearts were broken and that they wanted to bring her home to give themselves closure.
Officers have visited more than 4,000 homes during the investigation, and employed specialist search teams, drones and helicopters.
Her disappearance was cited at the inquest of her brother Haydon, who took his own life on 16 November 2019.
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