Leah Croucher: 'Hope tree' grows with messages of condolence for family in Milton Keynes church

The hope tree for Leah Croucher with Rev Sharon Grenham Thompson, at Church of the Servant King.
Credit: ITV News Anglia
Rev Sharon Grenham Thompson, at Church of the Servant King, with the hope tree. Credit: ITV News Anglia

A "hope tree" has been set up in the grounds of a church for people to leave memories and messages of condolence to murdered teenager Leah Croucher.

Written tributes were written on paper leaves in memory of the 19-year-old, whose remains were recently found in a house in Milton Keynes last month.

The tree began being adorned with messages as police started searching a house in the area, where they found items belonging to the teenager before discovering a body.

The Rev Sharon Grenham Thompson, at Church of the Servant King said: "We set this up once the news broke that someone had been found in our local area and lots of people were suspecting it would be Leah."

Leah Croucher's remains were found in October in a house in Milton Keynes. Credit: Family photo

She added: "Members of the community can come in and write a prayer or a message on a leaf and hang it on the tree.

"It will be a symbol of the prayers, thoughts, memories, good wishes and of course sorrow that the entire community here feels about what's happened." "It's been a hugely emotional time and I think it does, at least, give Leah's family comfort to know that so many people here care.

"I know that Leah's mum has said to me that she has felt very aware of the support of the community here and just how much love there is out there for her and for Leah."

The notes left on the tree will be gathered up and put into a book for Leah's family to keep.

Miss Croucher was 19 when she was reported missing in February 2019.

After a three-year campaign to find her, police received a tip-off from a member of the public and searched the house in Loxbeare Drive, where her remains and items that belonged to her were found.

On 14 October police named maintenance man Neil Maxwell as the prime suspect for Miss Croucher's murder.

He was the only person with keys to the Loxbeare Drive house at the time of Ms Croucher’s disappearance, police said.

They said he was a convicted sex offender and was wanted for further, unrelated, offences at the time of Miss Croucher's disappearance.

He took his own life in April 2019, after police had made 18 attempts to arrest him at various places around the country.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know