To mark the first day of Leah Croucher's 20th year, the Citizen is publishing a harrowing account from her sister of the hell that the family has been through for the past six months.
We are hoping it will prompt someone, somewhere, to end the agony and confess what has happened to the home-loving, sweet-natured Milton Keynes girl, who disappeared while walking to work on February 15.
If anybody knows anything at all, please call Crimestoppers today on 0800 555 111.
Here are the words of Leah's sister Jade:
"So this is it then.. the day that my family and I have dreaded so badly. The day that we wished we would not be celebrating alone.. My sister Leah Croucher’s 20th birthday.
A day that should be celebrated and filled with love, instead is filled with the most intense pain imaginable.
It is six months since the day that Leah went missing yet cruelly we still have no idea about what happened on 15th February. We have no idea whether Leah is safe, we have no idea if she has come to any harm and we have no idea why she has not made any contact, used her phone or returned home in such a long amount of time.
Birthdays and anniversaries are always difficult, unbearable days when you are going through a loss. Although the loss that we are feeling is like no other. We are suffering a loss that can never be described. The thought that every day you wake up or go to sleep you do not know why your sister is missing. The thoughts that run through your head of what could have happened, playing over and over like a broken record. Your own mind can honestly be the most scary place on the days where these thoughts totally take over and become overwhelming.
To put it very matter of factly there are many things that we have lost in the half a year of hell that we have lived through. We have lost faith, we have lost confidence, we have lost trust. One thing we haven’t lost is our love for Leah and our need to know that she is safe.
I have tried on numerous occasions to describe how I feel and after thinking of it over and over I can honestly say the only way to describe it is like I have been intensely grieving for my sister for six months. With fleeting moments of hope that she may come home and the daunting thought as the days roll into one another that it has still not happened yet. A longing to know answers and the knockbacks that come, rolling like punches when answers are not received.
People tell me constantly to remain positive, believe that she will be home soon and to have faith.. so let’s discuss statistics. I recently read that “an estimated 250,000 people to missing each year” in the UK. What if I also told you that “91% of missing incidents reported to the police were closed within 48 hours”. Not for us though. In the 6months that will have passed by as of tomorrow, Leah will have been missing for total of 4380 hours. For this very reason the longer time goes by the harder it becomes to remain positive. Surely if there was good in this world we would have answers. We would have closure. Or even better we would have Leah home, safe and happy.
Never take your normal life for granted. It can all change in such a short amount of time. There are events that happen that change you as a person. Hold your family tight and cherish every moment. I hope no one else has to live through this pain.
We live every day now battling to raise awareness of Leah’s disappearance all so that people will not forget about our girl! Praying that she is somewhere safe and she will be recognised. Please keep sharing."