The paedophile whose old house is at the centre of the Leah Croucher murder investigation was featured in a real-life TV crime documentary.
Detectives have been searching a four-bedroom property in Milton Keynes following the discovery of the remains by cleaners, which is feared could be those of the missing 19-year-old.
The £490,000 house, which the teenager is thought to have regularly walked past on her way to work, was once occupied by a convicted paedophile.
His crimes – engaging with sexual activity with two girls aged between 13 and 15 – were featured in a television documentary.
It is not yet clear if anyone was living in the rented property in February 2019, when Leah went missing, but it is understood to have been empty for years until the latest developments.
Police have said they had never ‘been alerted’ to the property previously as part of their investigation. It is not clear whether it was part of the 4,000 addresses officers said they had doorknocked in their probe.
But a neighbour on the same road said when Leah disappeared his own house had been visited twice by the police, who had even searched his garden.
Leah was last seen walking to work in Milton Keynes on the morning of February 15, 2019. She did not arrive at her workplace and her parents Claire and John reported her missing after she failed to return home.
Since Monday, officers have been searching the detached property that has been rented out in Loxbeare Drive, in the Furzton area of the city.
Neighbours recalled seeing the girl walk past regularly on her way to work as an admin assistant the nearby Debit Finance Collect (DFC).
The paedophile was featured on a national real-life crime documentary over his five offences on the two young girls
The paedophile, whose old house is at the centre of the Leah Croucher murder investigation was featured in a real-life TV crime documentary
Human remains believed to be that of missing teenager Leah Croucher (pictured left and right) were found in a home once occupied by a convicted sex offender, it can tonight be revealed
Detectives have been searching the four-bedroom property in Milton Keynes following the discovery of the remains. Pictured: Police tape outside the property in Milton Keynes
Now it has emerged that the £490,000 house, which the teenager is thought to have regularly walked past on her way to work, was once occupied by a convicted paedophile. Pictured: Floral tributes are left outside the property
An aerial view of forensic and police officers outside a property in Loxbeare Drive, Furzton, Milton Keynes, where police have identified human remains
Multiple police officers and forensic examiners were seen in the house and in its back garden this afternoon
Police officers remain guarding the scene as investigations continue into the possessions and human remains found at the property
Home CCTV captured Leah Croucher as she walked to work on the morning of February 15, 2019
Leah, who was 19 years old at the time of her disappearance, was reported missing from Emerson Valley, Milton Keynes by her family on 15th February 2019. They last saw her at 10pm the day before, 14 February, St Valentine’s Day. Pictured: The last known sighting of Leah on February 15
Detectives have sealed off house in Furzton, Milton Keynes – just a short distance from Furzton Lakes where Leah was last seen as she walked to work
The missing rucksack of Leah Croucher (left) has been recovered from a property in the Furzton area of Milton Keynes (Pictured right: a make of the bag owned by Leah)
A forensic tent was erected outside the property, which police have been searching since Monday – successfully recovering items belonging to Leah Croucher, including her rucksack
Personal items including Leah Croucher’s rucksack have been recovered from the address
Thames Valley Police has now confirmed that human remains have been found at the site
Leah with her brother Haydon 24, with whom she was very close. He was found hanged at his home on November 14, 2019, nine months after she disappeared, and died in hospital two days later. An inquest later heard he struggled to cope after his sister’s disappearance
Haydon Croucher was found hanging in his flat in Bletchley, Milton Keynes, nine months after Leah disappeared. He was rushed to hospital where he died two days later. Pictured: His family holding his hand as he lay in his hospital bed
The convicted paedophile’s parents last night told The Times that the family had moved out prior to Leah’s disappearance. His mother also told the paper that they had not seen the convicted sex offender ‘for years’.
Thames Valley Police confirmed last night that human remains have been discovered at the site. A rucksack and personal items belonging to the teenager were also found. According to sources, much of the forensic work has been focused on one of the ceilings of the home.
Wall boards were seen being carried from the property and a blue-coloured forensic tent was erected in the front garden.
Ever since she disappeared, Leah’s distraught parents and elder sister Jade have done everything possible to keep her in the public eye and step up the campaign to find her.
Tragically, nine months after she went missing, Leah’s brother Hayden Croucher, 24, was discovered by his mother and sister Jade hanged at his flat and later died in hospital – landing the family a further blow. An inquest heard he struggled to cope following her disappearance.
Leah’s mother previously said her disappearance had ‘destroyed’ their family, adding that if she had been abducted or killed they would hold the culprit responsible for Haydon’s death as well. ‘He obviously, as everybody knows, he couldn’t cope, he found it very difficult,’ she said.
Leah’s parents John and Claire Croucher spoke in February, on the third anniversary she went missing: ‘It has been three long, desolate, years since our beautiful and wonderful daughter Leah, vanished without a trace on her way to work. We still have no answers as to why. No clues as to what happened. No idea as to where or how she is.
‘It is impossible to stay positive after all this time. It was difficult at the start of this but now, the task is so futile, our lives are so bleak. It is harder each day to tell ourselves that today will be the day that we get answers, today we find out what happened three years ago.’
Leah was described by loved ones as ‘very quiet’ and ‘not really an outgoing type of person’, preferring to read fantasy fiction or watch DVDs in her room to nights out at the pub. She had competed internationally in taekwondo but her father said she was ‘not a fighter’.
The property where the remains were found is just a 20-minute walk from Leah’s own address and neighbours said the teenager would often walk through the street.
Thames Valley Police states it searched over 4,000 addresses in the hunt to find Leah. It is not known if the property on Loxbeare Drive was among them.
Records show the house, built as part of the estate in 1992, has been owned by a Kuwaiti family for two decades and has been rented out to a number of tenants over the years.
A Thames Valley Police spokesperson said: ‘Following information received from a member of the public on Monday… specialist officers and forensic teams attended the location.
‘As a result of an ongoing detailed forensic search of the property, a number of items have been located.
‘During the search we have found items, including a rucksack and personal possessions belonging to Leah Croucher, who was reported missing on February 15, 2019.
‘As a result of our findings, Thames Valley Police have now launched a murder investigation. This is a complex and challenging scene, which we have been at since just after 6.30pm on Monday.
‘We will continue to be at the scene for a significant period of time.
‘A large-scale missing person investigation has been ongoing for the last three and a half years, with extensive searches and house-to-house enquiries.’
Detective Chief Superintendent Ian Hunter said: ‘Following a call to police on Monday, we attended an address and located items of concern within the property.
‘We are dealing with a very difficult scene but we can now confirm that we have discovered a number of items that are linked to Leah, and as such, we have now launched a murder investigation, led by our Major Crime Unit.
‘Leah’s family have been kept updated and continue to be supported by officers, and we are urging the public and media to think of her family and not to speculate further while this investigation is in the early stages.
‘We will provide further updates when we are able to do so.
‘There remains a scene-watch in place at the address while this investigation continues, and we are committed to ensuring that our enquiries at the scene are thorough.
‘During our search for Leah, we have committed hundreds of officers and staff to the search for Leah over the last three and a half years, reviewing 1,200 hours of CCTV and conducted more than 4,000 house-to-house inquiries and offered several rewards for information to lead us to Leah.
‘The call from the member of the public that we received on Monday was the first occasion that we were alerted to 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 offer them all the support that they need.’
Following the update on the investigation, Ben Everitt, Conservative MP for Milton Keynes North, said he hoped it could ‘provide some answers to Leah’s loved ones’.
‘My thoughts continue to be with Leah’s family and friends at this incredibly difficult time,’ he said.
A faded Thames Valley Police missing person sign with a £5,000 reward, probably from the time that Leah Croucher disappeared, was still tacked to a tree just yards from the suburban property where human remains were found.
The sign was a short distance from the police cordon where forensic experts appeared to be at work building a structure in the back garden of the house.
The appeal sign, complete with three photographs of teenager Leah Croucher, featured the hashtag ‘come home Leah’.
It was still tacked to a tree with rusted nails and read: ‘As usual, Leah got up after her parents left for work.
‘She followed her normal routine including leaving home at her normal time and walking the route that she took to work in Knowhill, approximately two miles away.’
It added: ‘Leah did not call in sick to work. She took no money or clothes. She told no-one she was planning on running away from home or where she was going.’
It also describes her as white, 5ft 2ins tall, of slim build, and with shoulder length brown hair.
Ms Croucher was last seen in a black coat, black skinny jeans, all black high-top Converse trainers, a grey hoodie featuring the Stewartby Taekwondo logo and carrying a small black rucksack.
The property is just under half a mile from where Ms Croucher was last seen on CCTV in Buzzacott Lane, Furzon, in February 2019.
The last reported sighting of Leah was in nearby Buzzacott Lane in Furzton area of the city just after 8.15am on Friday, February 15, 2019.
She was walking in the direction of Loxbeare Drive and Chaffron Way while on her way to work in the morning before she ‘effectively vanished into thin air’.
A full-scale murder investigation has now been opened by Thames Valley Police as they investigate the items found at the £490,000 property
The house in Loxbeare Drive is close to the area where Leah was last seen walking on February 15, 2019
No-one has been charged in relation to Leah’s disappearance, while Thames Valley Police has confirmed human remains were found
A heavy police presence remains at the site as investigators probe for further clues about what happened to Leah
A police cordon is in place around the property in the Furzton area of Milton Keynes
Despite a wide-scale investigation in which police visited 4,000 properties, sent divers into Furzton Lake and reviewed 1,200 hours of CCTV, no trace of Leah was ever found and no one has been arrested in connection with the case.
Police previously called the case ‘bewildering and frustrating’, and said they retained an ‘open mind’ but ‘the potential that Leah is no longer alive has to increase’.
Detective Chief Inspector Andy Howard said ‘we’ve had no confirmed sightings of Leah’ since the time of her disappearance.
Leah, who was 19 years old at the time of her disappearance, was reported missing from Emerson Valley, Milton Keynes, by her family on February 15, 2019. They last saw her at 10pm the day before, February 14 – Valentine’s Day.
She was last seen on CCTV down Buzzacott Lane in Furzton, while on her way to work on the morning of February 15, before she ‘effectively vanished into thin air’. The last activity on her phone was just after 8.30am that day.
In February, Leah’s family issued an emotional statement to mark the third anniversary of her disappearance.
Leah Croucher seen on CCTV shortly before she went missing. The teenager was last spotted walking down Buzzacott Lane in Furzton, Buckinghamshire, while on her way to work on the morning of February 15, 2019 before she ‘vanished into thin air’
One image from Furzton Lake, shows a figure of a person dressed in black, who may or may not have been Leah, on the day she disappeared
Leah Croucher was last seen in Milton Keyens on February 15, 2019. Pictured are the old poster (left) and the new poster (right) that have been released to try and find her
Hayden Croucher (left) the brother of missing teenager Leah Croucher, killed himself months after her disappearance after telling a therapist he was finding it difficult to cope
In a written statement, issued through Thames Valley Police, Leah’s family said each day ‘feels like an eternity of pain and despair’, but said they remained hopeful she would one day be found.
‘It is harder each day to tell ourselves that today will be the day that we get answers, today we find out what happened three years ago,’ her parents John and Claire Croucher said.
‘It is unimaginable to convince ourselves that this is not a lie we tell ourselves so that we get out of bed each day. Each day is torture.
‘It is inconceivable not to worry every second of every single day. Sleep feels an elusive character each night, waking each morning we never feel rested and refreshed.
‘Each time the phone rings or there is a knock at the front door, our hearts still leap in our chests.
‘That familiar surge of hope springing up in our throats. That familiar wave of despair that crashes over our very souls each time.
‘It is not the police or Leah herself knocking at the door or calling on the phone.
‘Again, we ask for the public’s help. You have all been so wonderful so far, still helping us search every face in the streets to see if they are Leah, still sharing on social media, still reporting possible sightings to the police.’
The night before she went missing, Leah left her home in Milton Keynes between 6pm and 7.15pm. She told her mother Claire Croucher she was seeing a friend.
The police found out she never saw the friend and they do not know where she went or who she was with – or whether she met anyone that night.
Her parents last saw her when she went to bed, with her mother Claire previously saying it was ‘the last time I got to say goodnight’.
Last year Claire and her husband John Croucher said they feared someone may have taken Leah as they questioned why she would ‘just disappear’.
The search for Leah has seen officers visit more than 4,000 homes in Milton Keynes, while officers have deployed specialist search 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.
Since Leah went missing, her family have kept her name in the public eye with campaigns for information.
In April, DCI Howard said: ‘We remain absolutely committed to finding Leah and seeking answers for her family.’
The following month, an appeal for information about Leah’s whereabouts was featured on digital billboards across London.
Alongside the tragedy of Leah’s disappearance, Leah’s family also suffered the tragic death of her brother Haydon, who was found hanged in November 2019.
The 24-year-old hanged himself after telling a therapist he was finding it difficult to cope with his sister’s disappearance.
Haydon was brought to Milton Keynes hospital for assessment for admission by his therapist Chantelle Tillison. But there were no beds available and he was sent home.
He was found hanging in his flat in Bletchley, Milton Keynes, nine months after Leah disappeared, by his mother Tracey Furness and sister Jade.
He was rushed to hospital where he died two days later on 16 November last year, Milton Keynes coroner’s court heard in 2020.
After his inquest, his mother Claire warned there was ‘still a lot to learn’ from her son’s suicide.
In a statement issued through her solicitors Mrs Furness in 2020, she said: ‘The family considers the Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust still have a lot to learn from the avoidable death of Haydon and others before him.’
Meanwhile, Leah’s sister Jade Croucher, issued an appeal in July 2019, four months after her disappearance, for Leah to come home.
She said; ‘It would be lovely if she messaged me on her birthday.
‘Every day I wake up with the hope that we will get a little bit of a breakthrough that Leah is safe and well.
‘I’m constantly checking my phone, but so far there has been nothing.’
The detached home where human remains were found is owned by a Kuwaiti based family who have rented it out for over two decades.
Local residents missing teenager Leah Croucher would walk past the home every day on her way to work as an admin assistant.
Leah Croucher’s mother Claire speaking to media at Milton Keynes Police Station in 2020
John and Claire speaking to media at Milton Keynes Police Station in 2020, as they plead for information one year on from her disappearance
Pictured: Leah Croucher (right) with her elder sister Jade (left)
The 19-year-old lived less than half a mile away from the £490,000 home where human remains along with her rucksack and other possessions were found.
Forensic teams continued to work at the property which has a rusting truck parked in the driveway.
Jill Davey, who lives close to the house, said:’ Leah used to walk past the house every day. I would see her walking to work.
‘It just sickens me that she was so close to her home. The police were meant to have searched all the houses around here, but they obviously didn’t do their job properly.
‘I just hope they can find whoever did this.’
Records show the four-bedroom detached home was rented to a number of tenants over the years.
For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch, see www.samaritans.org for details.