Missing from Milton Keynes: Leah Croucher the timeline, everything we know so far
As a major search continues in Milton Keynes in relation to missing Leah Croucher, the Citizen retraces every important detail in a dedicated timeline of events since she vanished eight months ago.
Thursday February 14, Valentine's Day
8am. Leah, 19, sets off for work as normal. She has an admin job with finance company DFC in Davy Avenue, Knowlhill and walks the two mile journey to and from work every day, often going via Furzton Lake.
5.45pm. Leah walks home from work. Strangely, the location settings on her Samsung phone were switched off in the Furzton Lake area. Nobody knows why. It could be that she was downloading another app that disabled them. But the mobile phone company has confirmed Leah had never turned off her location settings before.
6pm. Leah arrives home from work. She changes into tracksuit bottoms and a long-sleeved top with the logo 'I solemnly swear that I am up to no good' (a quote from her favourite Harry Potter books) and leaves the house on foot. She tells her mum she is going to visit a friend.
7.15pm. Leah arrives home again. She doesn't fancy the meal her mum was cooking so she ordered herself a takeaway. Her mum asks if her friend is okay and Leah replies with a yes.
Her behaviour that night was totally normal, say her parents.
Later it was discovered that Leah has not visited the friend. Where did she go for that 75 minutes on Valentine's night? Did she meet anybody?
Friday February 15
8am. Leah gets up and leaves for work. Her parents have already left for their work. She sets off on her normal route, wearing a black coat, skinny black jeans, black Converse high top shoes and carrying a small black rucksack. Underneath her coat she wears a distinctive grey hoodie, which has the logo of her dad's Stewartby Taekwondo club.
8.13am. CCTV footage shows her walking along Buzzacott Lane in Furzton. That was the last confirmed sighting of Leah. It was eight months ago.
8.34am. Leah's mobile phone is switched off.
9am. Leah fails to arrive at work.
9.30am – 11.15am. Three different witnesses report seeing a girl matching Leah's description walking by Furzton Lake. She was looking “visibly upset” and crying while talking on the phone. She was also text with two thumbs. Police have never been able to say definitely that this was Leah. However, no other female has ever come forward to say it was them.
6pm Leah fails to return home. She is reported missing.
Sunday February 17
Police issue a press release saying Leah is missing. They describe her as white, slim, with below shoulder length brown hair and sometimes wearing glasses.
Tuesday February 19
Police release the CCTV footage of Leah in Buzzacott Lane. They are becoming “increasingly concerned” for her welfare. Her phone is switched off and cannot be traced and her bank account has not been touched.
For the next few weeks police work tirelessly to find Leah. They make repeated appeals for witnesses and knock on hundreds of doors to see if people saw anything. Divers scour Furzton Lake and fingertip searches are carried out. Leah's family and friends put posters up all over MK, Not a single clue is found.
The route that Leah took to work was visible from busy roads, houses and public areas. Yet nobody saw anything. It is as though she vanished off the face of the earth. Police admit the case is highly unusual – and baffling.
Thursday May 30
Leah's older brother Haydon, 23, appears at Aylesbury Crown Court charged with making threats to Leah's work colleague, a man called Adnan Choudhury between February 1 2019 and April 30 2019.
The court describes Mr Choudhury as Leah's ex boyfriend. Police agree not to pursue the prosecution because it would not be in the public interest.
Judge Sheridan said of Mr Choudhury: “The police have fully investigated the person you suspected. There is, at this stage, nothing to support your suspicions. You must allow them, however strongly you feel, to do their investigations.”
Mr Choudhury has since denied he was in a relationship with Leah. He told the Citizen this week: “That is incorrect. There was no romantic relationship....I was not grooming her. We were colleagues and we were friends... you start talking to each other."
He added: “She was my work colleague. She was my friend. I would like what everyone else wants - to get her home safe. I do wish she is found safe and back with her family.”
Wednesday August 20
It's Leah's 20th birthday. There have been more appeals, dozens of sightings that proved incorrect and more police investigations. But her heartbroken family are still no nearer solving the mystery of what happened to her.
Wednesday September 25
BBC's Crimewatch Roadshow re-enacts Leah's disappearance and appeals for information. It shows the clothing Leah was wearing on the day she vanished.
A woman from Milton Keynes watches the show and remembers walking at the Blue Lagoon lake in Bletchley in February and seeing a grey hoodie just near the water. She remembered it had the word 'Stewartby' on the back. She calls police and tells them. It is later revealed the hoodie was seen hanging on a tree near the lake.
This could be the first - and only clue - about what has happened to Leah. Somebody must have put the hoodie on the tree. It is not there now, so somebody must have removed it. Were you visiting the Blue Lagoon at that time? Do you remember seeing anything?
Wednesday October 9
Police launch a mayor search at the Blue Lagoon. They send divers into the lake and scour the surrounding woodland with sniffer dogs. The search will last for up to 10 days, they say. So far it is understood that nothing of significance has been found.
If anything here jogs your memory please call police urgently on 101 quoting reference 43190049929. If you are reluctant to deal with police, you can leave information anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.