Leah Croucher: Police formally identify body found in loft as missing teen

Police have formally identified remains found in a loft as those of missing teenager Leah Croucher.

Officers investigating the murder of the 19-year-old in Milton Keynes confirmed the identification today after the tragic finding on October 12.

The remains were found less than a mile from her home and along the route she walked every day to work.

A murder investigation was launched after the horrific discovery of remains in a loft space of a property along Loxbeare Drive, in Milton Keynes, last week.

A number of Leah’s possessions were also found at the property, prompting the forensic examinations but the prime suspect in her killing, a convicted rapist, committed suicide just weeks after she went missing.

Senior Investigating Officer Detective Superintendent Kevin Brown, the Head of the Major Crime Unit, said: “The thoughts of all of us at Thames Valley Police remain and will always be with Leah’s family and friends.

“The entirety of our investigation keeps them uppermost in our minds, and they continue to be supported by specially trained officers and updated on every development.

“After a difficult process, we are now in a position to formally confirm that the body found in Loxbeare Drive last week is that of Leah.

“The grief and shock of Leah’s family and friends is unimaginable, and they have shown enormous courage, patience and dignity over the last three years and eight months while our search for Leah continued.

“They have always been supportive of Thames Valley Police, both during our extensive missing person investigation and this subsequent investigation into Leah’s murder.

“We ask again, on their behalf, to please respect their privacy at what is such a traumatic and upsetting time for them all.

“Our investigations into Leah’s murder will leave no stone unturned, and we owe it to Leah’s family to ensure we find the truth. We are absolutely committed to doing so, to allow them to gain an understanding of what happened to Leah.”

A Home Office post-mortem conducted last week was inconclusive on the cause of the young woman’s death.

A rapist and fugitive sex attacker was previously named as the prime suspect in the murder of teen Leah.

Heavily convicted Neil Maxwell – jailed in 2009 for rape – was unmasked as the main focus of the probe into 19-year-old Leah’s death.

Police revealed the deviant was wanted for another serious sexual assault when he took his own life on April 20, 2019, just weeks after Leah vanished in February 2019.

Maxwell was working as a handyman at a £500,000 property where the admin assistant’s remains were discovered. He was the only one to have keys for the property.

One former boss said he told detectives in 2009: “He [Maxwell] is one evil f*, he’s going to kill someone.”

At a previous press conference Det Chief Supt Ian Hunter said: “Today, I am able to confirm that we have nominated a suspect in this case. His name is Neil Maxwell.

“However, Maxwell was found dead on April 20, 2019 having taken his own life. It is unusual to name a suspect, but we have also learned this week that during the time when Leah went missing, and whilst the owner of the property was not in the UK, Maxwell was the only person to have keys to the property.

“Maxwell had been employed by the home owner to carry out some property maintenance at the house. We now know that Maxwell had keys to this property from November 2018.”

A huge breakthrough in the case, that has been running three years and eight months, came when Leah’s rucksack was first found at the house her remains eventually were discovered too.

This came about following information passed onto the police by a member of the public and triggered the murder inquiry.

The 19-year-old disappeared at 10pm on Valentine’s Day night 2019, and her parents, Claire and John, reported her missing the following day.

Her last confirmed sighting was captured on CCTV at 8.16am in Buzzacott Lane, Furzton, on the morning of February 15. And the last activity on her phone was just after 8.30am that day.