Leah Croucher: Shock of mum who was 'last person to see Leah alive'

132210 Leah - Tara Maher
Tara Maher thinks she could have been the last person to see Leah Croucher on the morning she went missing. Credit: ITV News Anglia

A mother who believes she was among the last people to see missing teenager Leah Croucher alive has described her shock at the discovery of human remains.

Tara Maher, 51, said she used to pass Leah, 19, every morning in the Furzton area of Milton Keynes as she took her children to school.

Ms Maher, who had come to leave flowers at the scene, said she distinctly remembered seeing the teenager on the morning of 15 February 2019 - the day she went missing.

"I used to pass her every morning and I saw her on that day, so when I heard yesterday I just broke down. Everyone is just in shock, we're relieved for the family, but we're in shock.

"It's so close to home. It's like on your doorstep... It's just absolutely awful news but I felt I had to come down and lay some flowers for her - just an overwhelming feeling."

Ms Maher, who works at the nearby Tesco and has lived in Milton Keynes for 24 years, said she broke down in tears when she heard the news that human remains had been discovered.

Police began searching a house in Loxbeare Drive on Monday evening after a tip-off about suspicious items, and confirmed on Wednesday the discovery of human remains, along with a rucksack belonging to Leah.

Ms Maher said she used to pass Leah at about 8.20am every day and that she seemed completely normal on the last day they saw each other.

She particularly remembered that day because it was cold and frosty, and was the last day before half term.

Leah Croucher vanished on her way to work Credit: ITV News Anglia

It was only after the holiday when she started walking her children to school again that she realised it was Leah who had gone missing.

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 some of the teenager's belongings 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.

An extensive police cordon was set up in Loxbeare Drive, Furzton, in Milton Keynes. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Police have cordoned off the house and put up a tent in the front driveway, with a heavy presence of forensics officers.

Det Ch Supt Ian Hunter, head of crime for Thames Valley Police, said it was a "very difficult scene" and confirmed the discovery of a number of items that are linked to Leah.

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.

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.

Forensics officers leaving the house in Loxbeare Drive, Furzton. Credit: ITV News Anglia

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