THE family of missing Leah Croucher today revealed "we still dream we'll find you" two years after the teenager vanished without a trace.
Leah was just 19 when she was last seen around Emerson Valley, Milton Keynes, in February 2019.
The young woman had left for work on the morning of February 15 – last seen by her parents the night before – with CCTV showing her walking along Buzzacott Lane, Furzton at 8.16am.
But despite a huge police operation, there has been no sign of the young woman who would now be 21.
And two years on, her grieving family said her disappearance got harder "every day".
In a desperate appeal for information, her family said: "Leah, you have never left our thoughts for a moment. It may seem that at times to people that we are not thinking about you, but that is not true.
"We still have those awful questions screaming in our brains -where are you? What happened? We still dream about you. Dream that we find you or that you come home, out of the blue.
"That the police knock at the door to say they have found you, sometimes in the dream you are alive, sometimes you are not.
“You are still the last thing we think about at night and the first thing we think about in the morning.
"It is not getting any easier with time. If anything, it is getting harder.
"The constant worry about what happened to you that day and every day since you disappeared. The worry just keeps growing and growing."
And in a tragic twist for the family, Leah's brother tragically hanged himself months after she vanished, with an inquest hearing he had felt hopeless over the disappearance.
‘WE MISS YOU’ Family of Leah release desperate appeal two years on from her disappearance
“It’s now been two years since our beautiful, wonderful daughter Leah, left for work at 8.09am Friday 15 February and vanished without a trace. Missing. Gone. To say they have been a hard two years is an understatement. They have been the longest and toughest two years of our lives.
“This is another of a long line of appeals for information. Is this a waste of time as well? Will it leave us hoping for a brief period of time that we will finally get some answers, only to lead to the crushing disappointment when all the leads end up leading to a big pile of nothing? We expect so, yet we are so grateful for the opportunity to ask the public again for their help. Maybe this time will be different. We hope so with all our hearts.
“Leah, you have never left our thoughts for a moment. It may seem that at times to people that we are not thinking about you, but that is not true. We still have those awful questions screaming in our brains -where are you? What happened? We still dream about you. Dream that we find you or that you come home, out of the blue. That the police knock at the door to say they have found you, sometimes in the dream you are alive, sometimes you are not.
“You are still the last thing we think about at night and the first thing we think about in the morning. It is not getting any easier with time. If anything, it is getting harder. The constant worry about what happened to you that day and every day since you disappeared. The worry just keeps growing and growing.
“I still can’t eat properly; we can’t sleep properly. There is nowhere to go at the minute as the world is in lockdown, but it doesn’t matter, we don’t want to go anywhere anyway. Theories keep circulating our brains, I am still struggling to believe that you chose this. Did you run away? Why would you? There was no reason for you to. We were all happy. We had just planned to decorate your room when we returned from our family holiday we had booked. You had the money saved to move out if you wanted. Why didn’t you take the money with you? Why didn’t you take any of your stuff with you?
“I talk to the stars and pretend they are you because I have nowhere to go, no grave to visit. We can’t even lay flowers at the same time we visit your brother’s grave. We can barely go into your room anymore because it upsets us too much, it hurts, beyond belief, not to see you there, sitting in bed, watching TV. We miss your laugh so much. We miss your stories about your day at work. It’s so quiet here at home now. The house feels empty without you and your brother. We feel so alone and lost without you both.
“Leah you are not just our daughter, and it is not just me and dad who miss you. Your sister Jade misses you; your cousins miss you; your aunts, uncles and grandparents miss you. Everyone from our taekwondo family miss you. Your friends miss you. There are hundreds of people who want to know you are safe. There are thousands of people across the world that still share our social media posts, still talk about you on websites, still look for you when they are out doing their weekly shop. We all thank them for caring still.
“Do you understand how much of a positive influence you were on the people around you? Do you know how many of us care and are worried about you? You are such a kind, giving person. Your disappearance has affected everyone who knows you and many people who were never lucky enough to meet you. I still see comments on social media about how children are asking their parents if you have been found yet. You were loved by everyone you knew. You had a bright future, a good job and so many things to experience.
“Please Leah, if you are out there somewhere, just go into a police station and tell them who you are and send a message to us that you are OK, you are out there, safe. Call the Missing People charity, tell them you are safe. Better still, come home. Come home to a family who love and miss you.
“As I said at the start of this appeal, I still do not believe that Leah decided to vanish of her own accord. I believe that she has been taken against her will. Either by someone she trusted and considered a good friend, or by a stranger. Leah has been robbed of her life, her future. We have been robbed of so many wonderful milestones in both our children’s lives. Weddings, grandchildren, memories. Please tell us what you did to Leah, please tell us where she is, so we can bring her home and say goodbye to her properly.
“Leah, we miss you. We love you so much, we always have and always will. We want you back home so badly. Come home sweetheart. Please. Come back to your family.”
In the desperate appeal, Leah's family said they did not think she had vanished of her own accord.
They added: "I believe that she has been taken against her will. Either by someone she trusted and considered a good friend, or by a stranger. Leah has been robbed of her life, her future."
In the appeal, parents John and Claire said: "We have been robbed of so many wonderful milestones in both our children’s lives. Weddings, grandchildren, memories.
"Please tell us what you did to Leah, please tell us where she is, so we can bring her home and say goodbye to her properly."
Police have so far received "in the region of 600 pieces of information – be that information about what's possibly happened to Leah or reported potential sightings".
And cops today appealed for anyone with information – particularly after reports a woman was seen upset at Furzton Lake the morning that Leah disappeared.
A £10,000 reward for information has also been offered up by the shell-shocked community.
Timeline of Leah’s disappearance
February 14 afternoon: Leah walks home from work and the location settings on her phone are disabled
That evening: Leah goes out about 5.45pm and returns home just after 7pm. Police do not know where she goes during that time.
10pm: She is last seen by her parents at 10pm going to bed
February 15 morning: The teen is seen on CCTV in Furzton walking in the direction of her work at 8.16am
A woman believed to be the teen was later seen about 8.20am near an area known locally as Teletubby Hill
8.34am: Her phone disconnects from the mobile network
That morning: She does not arrive for work
That night: Leah is reported missing
Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Andy Howard today appealed for more information over the young woman's disappearance.
He said: “This area is a well populated residential area with people commuting, doing the school run or exercising. Given how busy the area is I find it hard to believe that this CCTV clip of Leah at 8.16am is the last time that we know she was seen.
“I genuinely believe that there are people in the area that morning who will have seen Leah and who can help the investigation. It was the day after Valentine’s Day and the last day before the schools finished for half-term so I am hopeful that it is a date that people may be able to recall more readily.
“It’s never too late to come forward with information to help our investigation, no matter how insignificant it may seem to you.
“Leah’s family have had to live with the constant pain and distress of not knowing what has happened to her for the last two years. I make this appeal to the public and particularly the residents of Milton Keynes to look at the images of Leah, cast your mind back to Friday, 15 February 2019 and please help us to give Leah’s family the information that they need."
Anyone who has information that could lead to the force locating Leah Croucher, is asked to contact 101 quoting reference number 43190049929, or Operation Dawlish.
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