The parents of Leah Croucher have visited the house where police found human remains, and left a handwritten message nearby reading “our darkest fears have come true”.
John and Claire Croucher, along with their daughter Jade, were driven in a police vehicle to the property at Loxbeare Drive in Furzton, Milton Keynes, just before 8pm on Thursday.
Thames Valley Police had moved passers-by standing near the tributes to the opposite side of the road just before they arrived, and the family laid flowers with a note at a public memorial a few minutes later.
John and Claire Croucher, along with their daughter Jade, were driven in a police vehicle to the property. Joe Giddens
The message left from the couple to their daughter, who vanished while walking to work in February 2019, read: “To our darling Leah, our darkest fears have come true, we only need to be apart a little longer.
“We have so missed you for so long already. The future looks so bleak now we know we will never see your smile or hear your laughter again.
“We will cherish your memories forever. We love you.
“Mum and Dad xxxx”
They also left a bouquet with a note from Ms Croucher’s “big sister and nephew Reggie”, reading: “To my beautiful sister Leah.
“My heart has broken, my mind racing with thoughts and my body numb.
“How can a life as beautiful as yours come to an end in such a tragic way. I have loved you from your first breath, and I will love you until my last.
“There has never been a moment where you were not in my thoughts and there never will be.
“My only comfort now is that you and Haydon are together in heaven. All my love forever.”
A handwritten message signed “Nan and Grandad” also read: “Our darling, we will never stop seeking answers.
“Will love and miss you always.”
The family’s tributes were laid among dozens more notes, bouquets, candles, teddy bears and tea-lights for Ms Croucher.
They also left a bouquet with a note from Ms Croucher’s “big sister and nephew Reggie”, reading: “To my beautiful sister Leah. “My heart has broken, my mind racing with thoughts and my body numb." Joe Giddens
Forensics experts have been scouring the property where detectives, who have launched a murder inquiry, have also found some of Ms Croucher’s possessions.
Blue tarpaulins could be seen in the back garden of the house where investigators had erected tall black screens and a police tent in the front driveway, blocking the view from the street.
A three-and-a-half year search for Ms Croucher, who was 19 when she went missing, is focusing on the two-storey brick house which is less than half a mile from where she was last seen.
Thames Valley Police said it had found human remains at the property on Wednesday, and that investigators would be there “for some time”.
A police spokesman said: “Monday was the first time we were alerted to this property by a member of the public in connection with this investigation.
“However, as an address in Furzton, the address was visited as part of our house-to-house inquiries as part of the investigation, during which we visited more than 4,000 addresses.
“There was no response at the property and as such leaflets would have been dropped through the letterbox.”
Ms Croucher’s family was struck by further tragedy when her brother, Haydon, died at the age of 24 in November 2019.
An estate car arrives at a property in Loxbeare Drive, Furzton, Milton Keynes, where police have identified human remains during forensic examinations in the search for missing teenager Leah Croucher. Joe Giddens
Ms Croucher was last seen on CCTV in Buzzacott Lane, Furzton, just after 8.15am on February 15 2019 walking in the direction of Loxbeare Drive and Chaffron Way.
A tip-off from a member of the public on Monday led detectives to the property where “items of concern” were found, Detective Chief Superintendent Ian Hunter said on Wednesday.
Police began searching the house on Monday and launched a murder inquiry when they found a rucksack and other personal belongings of Ms Croucher.
Mr Hunter said: “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.”
The force said forensic examination would go on for some time.
Hundreds of officers and staff have worked on the search for Ms Croucher in the past three-and-a-half years, scouring 1,200 hours of CCTV and carrying out 4,000 house-to-house inquiries.
The search for her has involved specialist police search teams, the mounted section, police dogs, the marine unit and the National Police Air Service.
The scene at the house is “difficult and challenging”, Mr Hunter said.