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Amateur detectives claim they're “really close” to solving the mystery of Leah Croucher’s disappearance.
The Buckinghamshire teen was last seen when she left for work on February 15, 2019.
She was spotted on CCTV a little while later, walking on Buzzacott Lane in Furzton, Buckinghamshire while before she “effectively vanished into thin air”. Her mobile phone dropped off the network at 8:34am that morning.
A statement from Thames Valley Police issued earlier this year confirmed that there had been no significant leads on Leah's whereabouts.
Describing Leah's case as “bewildering and frustrating,” detectives admitted that "the potential that Leah is no longer alive has to increase”.
Leah's parents, John and Claire, are convinced that she would not have left them voluntarily, and hope that one day she will contact them.
And a group of amateur sleuths operating on Facebook is determined to crack the case.
One of the investigators, who did not give their name, told The Sun that they were taking care not to prejudice any moves by the Crown Prosecution Service.
“We want a conviction,” they said. “We have no reason to damage what the CPS wants to do in time, we have no reason to get involved in that.
"We are laser-focused on finding the people who were responsible for the disappearance or have information about it”.
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The group’s spokesperson insisted that Leah’s disappearance should remain a missing persons investigation and not a murder inquiry – saying that if she had been killed that morning “surely” her body would have been found by now.
They speculated that the motive behind her disappearance could be “sex trafficking” and dismissed the police’s effort, saying that they “watched too much television”.
One potential lead turned up by the groups is an image from Google Earth which appears to show a young woman wrapped in a red blanket "hiding" in an abandoned barn about 18 miles from where Leah went missing.
The image was captured in March 2019 – about a month after the date that Leah was last seen.
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One of the amateur sleuths described the moment she spotted what she says could be the 19-year-old "hiding" in the barn: "I zoomed in, then zoomed again – and then I couldn't believe my eyes," she said.
"I could see someone in one of the barns, looking out of a big open window."
Police had already searched a nearby house and its grounds as part of their search for Leah, but reportedly took another look at the barn after the picture emerged. This, the group claim, gives them “serious credibility" and is proof that the police are "listening to what we're saying”.
A member of the public told local paper MK Citizen: "We saw police digging up the grounds and people were told it was part of the search for Leah Croucher".
DCI Andy Howard, a senior investigating officer on the Leah Croucher inquiry, dismissed the group’s claims that the police weren’t doing enough.
Pointing out that detectives had carried out over 1,400 "investigative actions" and scoured over 1,200 hours of CCTV, DCI Howard said: "We have continually engaged with the Leah Croucher Disappearance Community Investigation Facebook group, answered their questions and provided them with a detailed statement for their podcast, and so we do not accept that there is a lack of communication or that officers do not respond to all leads that are provided to the force by members of the public”.
But he added there were operational reasons why every piece of evidence collected so far had not been released to the public.
- Google Earth
- Missing Person
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