One year anniversary appeal to find Leah Croucher – Milton Keynes
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Thames Valley Police is appealing for information and witnesses on the one year anniversary of the disappearance of Leah Croucher.
Leah, aged 20, was last seen on CCTV in Buzzacott Lane in Furzton, just after 8.15am on Friday 15 February last year, walking in the direction of Loxbeare Drive and Chaffron Way.
The last activity on Leah’s mobile phone was just after 8.30am that morning in the Furzton area.
She was last seen by her family at 10pm the day before, 14 February, at their home address in Quantock Crescent, Emerson Valley. She was reported missing on 15 February.
Since then, there have been no confirmed sightings of Leah. Her bank account has not been used, there has been no activity on Leah’s social media accounts and she has not made any contact with her family or friends.
We are now launching the one year anniversary appeal to find Leah, in the hope of reuniting her with her family.
Leah’s parents, Claire and John, said: "The last twelve months have been the longest, most horrendous year of our lives.
“Three hundred and sixty five days ago our beautiful, wonderful daughter got up after we had left for work. Leah followed her usual routine and got ready for work herself. Leah left home at the usual time and despite the weather being below zero degrees that day, Leah walked to work and was seen on CCTV at 8.16am in Buzzacott Lane, Furzton.
“At 8.34am Leah's phone was switched off and then she vanished. She has not been seen again.
“Our lives were turned upside down when we realised later that night that she had not shown up to work. She did not call in sick which is totally out of character. She did not take any money, clothes or any other type of provision that would indicate she was planning on never returning home to us.
“There is no indication on her laptop that she had researched suicide or how to vanish and survive on the streets. She mentioned nothing to her family, friends or work colleagues about being depressed or needing to get away.
“She just vanished on her way to work. Who runs away at 8.15am on a bitter winter’s morning?
“Twelve months on we have the same four options as we did then. Suicide, Leah ran away, someone she knows abducted her, or a stranger abducted her.
“There have been so many press interviews, newspaper and online appeals. Missing People charity and Chelsea Football Club have appealed and tweeted, posters are on lorries, banners over roads, Crimewatch appeals and charity Taekwondo competitions to name a few.
“All to no avail. They have led to reported sightings across the world. But none of them are our Leah.
“We still don't know where she went the night before, Thursday 14 February between 6pm and 7.15pm.
“We have spent 365 sleepless nights saying goodnight to an empty room. Wishing, praying for a sign. Any sign that she chose this. Three hundred and sixty five days of terror and nightmares wondering if our innocent, naive, shy little girl is being treated...... inhumanely. Is she suffering somewhere? Or has that suffering ended now? Like Haydon’s has ended.
“The passage of time is not making this any easier. All of her family and friends are suffering with us. The loss of two of our children is unbearable. We need answers.
“To those that have commented negatively on social media, and have told us to accept that Leah has gone and we should move on with our lives. We won’t apologise for continuing the search for Leah. We can’t accept it, we won’t accept it and we will never give up.
“The only way of shutting us up is for the person or persons that know where Leah is, to come forward and tell the police. Call police on 101, Crimestoppers or Crimewatch.
“The only way of shutting us up is for Leah herself to contact Missing People by calling 116 000, or walking into a police station with her ID.
“We are in this for as long as it takes.
“We will never forget our daughter.
“We will never give up on finding out what happened to her.
“We will never give up looking.
“There are plans for more fundraising for our charities Missing People and Papyrus. Climbing mountains and jumping out of planes. We will always need these people for support so it’s right to support them back. So far with your help we have raised over £9,200.
“Leah, if you are out there watching or reading this and you really don't want to come home, which we all find impossible to believe, call Missing People or pop into a police station. Let us know you are safe and happy. Let us know you wanted this separation from everyone who knows and loves you. It will hurt us deeply - yes.
“But we will find a way to cope with it. But the way it is now - none of us can rest. All of us are worried sick. We cannot give up on looking for you. We miss you. We want you back. We love you so much. Our world has come crashing down around us.
“Come home - if you can, Please.”
Leah’s sister, Jade, said: “One small year of my life, but a year that has felt like it has lasted forever. The year that my life was torn apart and pain, despair and agony consumed my mind, my heart and my every day. My sister Leah ripped from our lives when she vanished on her way to work. My brother’s life ending far too early because he couldn’t cope with not knowing what has happened to Leah.
“Traumatic, unimaginable experiences reoccurring whenever I think life couldn’t get any harder. When I’ve convinced myself I’ve overcome the worst. Yet worse comes and seemingly never stops coming. Forever on edge fearing what cruel card life will deal me next. Under no illusion that despite the hardship we have already endured, the anticipation that more devastating news is very likely to still be coming. Waking up daily dreading the fate of my sister but at the same time so desperately seeking answers to the barrage of questions occupying my thoughts.
“What happened to Leah? Where is she? Is she alive? Is she safe?
“A driving force pushing me forward to get answers. For my family, for my sanity, for my sister and for my brother who unfortunately will not ever get the answer he equally so desperately sought.
“I’ve have appealed over and over again during this last year and I plead on this twelve month anniversary of Leah’s disappearance having opened my heart to the whole country, I am asking simply for someone to open their heart to me. Hear my pleas, hear my pain, put an end to the torture this has brought to my entire family. If you do have any information about Leah’s disappearance or knowledge of those who may have had any involvement have a look into your own heart. Ask yourself if your loved ones could live with this continued pain.”
Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Andy Howard, of the Major Crime Unit, said: “It has now been a year since Leah Croucher was reported as a missing person to Thames Valley Police.
“Since 15 February last year, there have been no confirmed sightings of Leah.
“This missing person enquiry has been an incredibly unusual one for our officers. Leah has seemingly vanished without a trace.
“Our ongoing investigation has been extensive. We have received more than 550 reports of information and potential sightings from members of the public across the UK, we have reviewed more than 1,200 hours of CCTV, visited more than 4,000 properties, carried out 1,200 investigative tasks and completed extensive land and water searches across Milton Keynes and surrounding areas. Our appeals on social media have reached over 10.3 million people.
“I firmly believe that there is someone out there who has some information regarding Leah’s whereabouts and her movements after 8.15am on 15th February. Please do the right thing and come forward.
“We know that Leah arrived home from work at around 5.45pm on Thursday February 14. She then left the family home at 6pm, saying that she was visiting a friend, and returned at 7.15pm.
“Enquiries have established that Leah did not visit her friend that evening. We need to know where she was during that time. Did you see or hear from Leah during that period? Maybe you saw someone matching her description?
“We also need to establish the identity of a woman who was seen near Furzton Lake between 9.30am and 11.15am on Friday 15 February, the day Leah went missing. A woman, matching Leah’s description was seen possibly using a mobile phone at the wooden boardwalk on the east side of the lake.
“This woman was also spotted near the sports pavilion, and later by the Premier Inn. We need to establish who this person was. Even if it was not Leah, it is important that we can eliminate this person from our enquiries
“I want to take this opportunity to remind the public of Leah’s appearance, in the hope it will jog someone’s memory.
“Leah is white, of a slim build, with below shoulder length brown hair and she occasionally wears glasses.
“When she was last seen, Leah was wearing a black coat, skinny black jeans, black Converse high top shoes and carried a small black rucksack.
“In particular, I want to draw attention to a grey hooded top that Leah was wearing on 15 February. A distinctive grey ‘Stewartby’ taekwondo hooded top, with a colourful logo.
“We remain committed to finding Leah Croucher and bringing her home to her family. We continue to thoroughly investigate and explore every report received, and we continue to support Leah’s family through this difficult time.
“I would ask that anyone with information, no matter how small you might think it is, please contact Thames Valley Police.
“A £10,000 reward, offered by two local donors, is available to anyone who has information that directly leads to us finding Leah.