25 May 19
The Scottish Sun
THREE months ago, Leah Croucher posted her daily Snapchat update – the latest in a three-year thread – and vanished into thin air.
The 19-year-old was walking to work through Milton Keynes on February 15 when she disappeared – with her parents now fearing they may have done “something wrong”.
Leah disappeared in February this year
Her parents John and Claire have issued a desperate appeal for information
Emotional Claire and John Croucher have now been forced to live through months of turmoil trying to figure out where Leah has gone.
Claire said: “Whatever it is that has caused you to run away, please let us help or fix it.
“If it is us, then tell us what we have done and if it is someone else, tell us and we will help you.
“We just want to give you a hug.”
Leah’s parents have spoken to us to mark International Missing Children’s Day today as we team up with Missing People for their Find Every Child campaign.
Her mysterious disappearance is still painfully raw for her family and is the most recent of all the cases we have explored this week.
[boxout headline=”Find Every Child Week” featured-image=”4264480″]EVERY two minutes a child is reported missing in the UK.
This means 80,000 kids vanish without a trace every year.
Children are more likely to be reported missing than adults – one in 200 goes missing each year, while one in 500 adults disappear.
Kids in care are at the highest risk of being reported missing – one in ten compared to one in 200.
The Sun Online has teamed up with Missing People as part of their Find Every Child Week campaign.
Each day this week, we will speak to a different family who have been affected by a child’s disappearance.
This marks International Missing Children’s Day on May 25.
If you are away from home or thinking of leaving, or if you have information about a missing person or a missing loved one, call the charity’s free and confidential 24/7 helpline on 116 000 or email email@example.com[/boxout]
Weeping, Claire says: “We are not even surviving anymore, we are just existing.”
On Valentine’s Day, Claire and John said goodnight to Leah and went to bed at the end of a “normal” night.
They woke up and left for work while Leah got herself ready for her own job at a finance company – making her bed and opening the curtains.
She dressed herself in a black coat, skinny black jeans and black Converse and took walked on Buzzacott Lane in Furzton in the direction of Loxbeare Drive and Chaffron Way.
The pain is still raw for Leah’s parents
CCTV pictures released show Leah Croucher on the day she disappeared
Claire regularly told her daughter to change her 30-minute route to work for “safety” reasons.
One person saw Leah just after 8am but she hasn’t been seen since.
Three people said they saw a woman “crying” by Furzton Lake between 9.30am and 11.15am but it is not confirmed whether this was Leah.
Her parents then received a call from her work at 5.30pm to say she hadn’t made it in.
At first, they believed her employers were confused and said she was may have been on annual leave at the time as they had forgotten this before.
Alarm bells only started ringing when it was confirmed this wasn’t the case as Leah would always make it to work on time if she was on the rota.
Dad John said: “She is a creature of habit and comes home at the same time every night so I called the police and went out searching.”
Since then, desperate police appeals for information and searches have drawn a blank.
After she vanished, cops used dogs, drones and helicopters to scour every inch of the route Leah would have walked as well as the surrounding area.
Divers searched Furzton Lake and have officers have made more than 4,000 door-to-door enquiries as they continue to frantically hunt for the teenager.
When she first disappeared, the local MK Dons football club ran an appeal on their big screens during a home match against Newport County and a £5,000 reward for information was anonymously donated.
But there are still no clues that could help solve the mystery.
Claire has begged her daughter to come home
[bc_video video_id=”6005808303001″ account_id=”5067014667001″ player_id=”default” embed=”in-page” padding_top=”56%” autoplay=”” min_width=”0px” max_width=”640px” width=”100%” height=”100%” caption=”Police release CCTV of last sighting of Leah Croucher at Buzzacott Lane in Furzton, Milton Keynes “]
Her parents say Leah isn’t like other girls her age. She prefers staying in with a book and it was Claire who forced her to go on her first pub trip three months after she turned 18.
Despite being a Taekwondo champion, John insists his daughter is “not a fighter” and couldn’t do the combat side because of a childhood eye condition.
Since she vanished, Leah’s social media accounts and phone remain untouched and no cash has been withdrawn from her bank account.
Breaking down, her mum said: “She was saving up to move in with a friend so she would have had enough money for that.
“She was leaving us. If she wasn’t happy here, there was no need for her to run away.”
As well the teenager’s phone remaining dormant, she hasn’t posted her daily Snapchat update.
‘PLEASE COME FORWARD’
John said: “It was a three-and-a-half year streak where every morning she would post something. That was part of her routine on that Friday morning.
“Then she just disappeared.”
Her parents both admit Leah’s disappearance is “highly unusual”, saying: “When Leah was first reported missing we honestly believed that she would be home very soon.”
Pleading for information, he added: “Please, if you know something then come forward and let the police know.”
[boxout headline=”‘I WENT MISSING AT 14’ – Former runaway Daisie-Mae tells her story” featured-image=”4286917″]”For me the decision to leave home petrified me, however the thought of now staying at ‘home’ scared me that much more. At a very young age my mother passed away and that was the start of some long years where I felt unhappy and isolated.
“The main thing that pushed me to run away was after my farther entered a new relationship he became very physically aggressive
and after a certain amount of time I could no longer accept that.
“When the night came that I left I had no idea what to do. I was so scared of what could happen to me. I had never felt so alone in my entire life, everything I’d have ever known was just gone.
“It’s a sad point in your life when you’re at your lowest and you realise you have no one you could turn to.
“The difference Missing People made to my life was truly amazing. I finally had someone I could speak to without feeling pressured or judged into making a decision.
“Before I was involved with them, I was so cold and angry, I didn’t understand why this has happened to me and I just shut everyone out which made me more alone and vulnerable.
“I honestly can’t thank the Missing People team enough for helping me talk through and understand the most difficult time of my life.”[/boxout]
[article-rail-section title=”MOST READ IN NEWS” posts_category=”2″ posts_number=”6″ query_type=”popular” /]
Detective Chief Inspector Andy Howard, said: “Thames Valley Police has a dedicated team investigating the disappearance of Leah Croucher, who went missing from Milton Keynes on February 15.
“Officers are continuing to receive information and reported sightings of Leah all of which are assessed and investigated accordingly.
“Thames Valley Police remain committed to finding Leah, to investigate and explore all lines of enquiry and to continue to support Leah’s family through this incredibly difficult and upsetting time.”
Our campaign so far…
Dad of vanished teen sometimes ‘envies parents of murdered kids’
Sister of boy, 3, who vanished 40 years ago hopes he was murdered
Time capsule room of missing boy who ‘may have been killed by paedo’ in 1988
Sister of girl who vanished on Army base like The Missing reveals her guilt
Family of UK’s longest missing person beg her to get in touch before they die
The 19-year-old was reported missing after she failed to show up at work
Police divers failed to find any sign of Leah in the lakes near her family home
The parents have asked for anyone with information to come forward