Leah Croucher's parents renew appeal a year after she vanished
Teenager went missing while walking to work in Milton Keynes in February 2019by PA Media
The parents of missing Leah Croucher, who disappeared a year ago, have spoken of how their family has been destroyed as they pleaded with anyone who might have information to “do the decent thing” and come forward.
Police say they are unable to rule out that Croucher came to harm after she “effectively vanished into thin air” in Milton Keynes while on her way to work.
Then aged 19, she was last spotted at about 8.15am on Buzzacott Lane, in the Furzton area, on 15 February 2019.
Claire and John Croucher questioned why their daughter would “just disappear” and said they feared she had been abducted, in an anniversary appeal.
“Every day I feel like I’ve given up hope, and it’s a big struggle to get that hope back,” Claire Croucher said. “It’s more and more difficult because, if someone took Leah for example, she’s suffering for 365 days and no one wants that for their child.”
She spoke of how her family’s heartbreak was compounded after the death of Leah’s brother, who she said found the disappearance of his sister “very difficult”.
Haydon Croucher, 24, died in hospital on 16 November, the day after nine months had passed since his sister’s disappearance.
Claire Croucher said: “They’ve destroyed our entire family and I don’t think they will ever come forward with their information. As a family, we hold them responsible for Haydon’s death as well. He obviously, as everybody knows, he couldn’t cope, he found it very difficult.
“Why do they hate us so much that they’ve put us through this by keeping quiet? They should do the decent thing and come forward.”
John Croucher said: “Two lives seem to have disappeared. My son has died, my daughter is still missing, we don’t know if she’s alive or dead. My family is destroyed. Stop being selfish, please tell the police what you know.”
The family’s appeal came as Thames Valley police revealed that a reward for any information about Leah’s whereabouts had been doubled to £10,000.
Officers searching for her have visited more than 4,000 homes in Milton Keynes and deployed specialist teams, drones and helicopters.
Marine units and dive teams have conducted searches of lakes across the town but police say they have found no items relating to the missing woman.
DCI Andy Howard, the senior investigating officer, said he “cannot preclude” the theory that Croucher was physically taken or influenced into going missing.
“What I can say is that 12 months into the investigation, I’ve got no information at all that leads me to reasonably believe that a third party has harmed Leah,” he said. “But because of the circumstances in which Leah has gone missing, on a Friday morning, on a route that she is known to take consistently, daytime, and has effectively vanished into thin air.
“That is really concerning and unusual and because of that, I cannot preclude those theories, even though I’ve got no information to support them at this time.”
Police want to know more about Croucher’s movements both on the day of her disappearance and the previous day between approximately 6pm and 7.30pm, when her whereabouts are still unknown.
She told her family she was going to a friend’s house the evening before she disappeared but did not do so.
The force is also looking to establish the identity of a woman seen near Furzton Lake between 9.30am and 11.15am on the day of Croucher’s disappearance.
Three witnesses reported sightings of a woman of a similar description to Croucher “angry, upset and crying”, but said they had not been able to confirm it was the missing teenager.