Milton Keynes public get chance to say 'private goodbye' to Leah Croucher ahead of teen's funeral

Leah Croucher.
Credit: Family photo

Members of the public will get a chance to say a "private goodbye" to murdered teenager Leah Croucher as her funeral cortege passes through the streets of her home city.

The cortege will pass within metres of the empty house where her remains were found.

The 19-year-old went missing in February 2019, when she vanished on her way to work in Milton Keynes, and her remains were found more than three-and-a-half years later.

Her family said her funeral would take place on 3 March, and thanked the people of Milton Keynes for their support.

The arrangements have been made public so that people can turn out on the route to pay their respects.

In a statement released through police, Claire and John Croucher said: “We cannot thank you all enough for this support during those years, as well as the past four-and-a-half months since Leah was found.

“The community outpouring displayed at the address in Furzton, as well as the countlessmessages of support displayed on a tree nearby, which have been compiled into a book by the local church on the estate has taken our breath away."

Leah's funeral cortege will pass Loxbeare Drive, where she was found.

The family has released the route of the funeral cortege, allowing people an opportunity to pay their respects as the family travels to the crematorium.

"We would like to offer the opportunity to those of you who wish to pay your respectsand say your very own private ‘goodbye’ to Leah as she goes on her final journey to thecrematorium," they said.

The route will start at Emerson Valley at 10.50am and will pass within metres of Loxbeare Drive in the Furzton area of the city, where Ms Croucher was found.

The family asked people not to buy flowers, but are raising money for the charity Missing People, which has given them support since Ms Croucher went missing in 2019.

Neil Maxwell is thought to have grown a beard and lost weight in his efforts to evade police. Credit: Thames Valley Police

Police named Neil Maxwell, a handyman who did maintenance at the house where she was found, as the prime suspect in her murder.

Maxwell - who killed himself two months after Ms Croucher went missing - was on the run at the time of her disappearance following an alleged sexual assault.

Detectives admitted they have not found anyone who had seen the 48-year-old in Loxbeare Drive around the time Ms Croucher disappeared - or even in the Milton Keynes area any time after December 2018.

Police created a computer-generated image of what Maxwell could have looked like at the time Ms Croucher was last seen.

Police released this CCTV image of Leah on the day she went missing. Credit: Thames Valley Police

Ms Croucher 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 later that evening, after she failed to return home.

Thames Valley Police launched a huge missing person operation, but multiple searches of Furzton Lake and the nearby Blue Lagoon produced no results.

Over the years her family and police issued appeals for information, including a new photograph in February 2022, nearly three years on from her disappearance.