Thursday, December 1, 2022

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Murder investigation launched after items belonging to missing woman are found

A murder investigation has been launched by detectives searching for a missing woman who has not been seen since 2019.

Thames Valley Police officers found a backpack and personal belongings belonging to Leah Croucher following a tip from a citizen on Monday.

Specialist teams are still searching a property at Loxbeare Drive, Furzton, Milton Keynes where the items were found and will remain there “for a significant period of time”, the force said.

Miss Croucher, 19, disappeared on her way to work in February 2019.

She was last seen on CCTV in Buzzacott Lane, Fartton, just after 8.15am that day, walking towards Loxbeare Drive and Chaffron Way.

Detective Chief Superintendent Ian Hunter said: “Following a call to police on Monday we visited an address and located items of concern at the property.

“We are dealing with a very difficult scene but we can now confirm that we have uncovered a number of items linked to Leah and as such we have now opened a homicide investigation which is being conducted by our Serious Division crime is directed.

“Leah’s family has been kept informed and continues to have the support of officials and we urge the public and media to think of her family and to refrain from speculating while this investigation is in its early stages.

“We will provide further updates as soon as we are able to do so.

“A scene guard will remain at the address while this investigation continues and we are committed to ensuring our investigations at the crime scene are thorough.”

He said hundreds of officers and staff have been working to find Ms Croucher over the past three and a half years, searching 1,200 hours of CCTV and conducting 4,000 door-to-door inquiries.

Specialized police search teams, the mounted detachment, police dogs, the naval unit and the National Police Air Service were involved in a frantic search for her whereabouts.

Mr Hunter added: “The call we received on Monday from a member of the public was the first time we have been made aware of this address and we thank them for contacting us immediately to report their concerns .

“Our thoughts remain with Leah’s family and friends and we will continue to provide them with any support they may need.”

Miss Croucher was described by relatives as “very quiet” and “not really an outgoing person” who prefers reading fantasy novels or watching DVDs in her room to going out to the pub at night.

She had competed internationally in taekwondo, but her father said she was “not a fighter.”

Another tragedy struck her family when Miss Croucher’s brother Haydon Croucher died in November 2019 at the age of 24.

His mother said he found his sister’s disappearance “very difficult”.

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