Leah Croucher detectives name suspect and release photo as murder probe launched

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    Detectives investigating the disappearance of Leah Croucher have named a suspect as they launched a murder investigation.

    Officers publicly named the man after human remains, thought to be the 19-year-old's, were found earlier in a house in Milton Keynes earlier this week.

    Thames Valley Police with Head of Crime, Detective Chief Superintendent Ian Hunter said: "Today, I can now confirm we have nominated a suspect in this case. His name is Neil Maxwell."

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    Police then confirmed that the named suspect, who had previous convictions of sexual assault against women and girls, took his own life in 2019.

    He allegedly knew he was wanted in connection with the sexual assault and tried to dodge arrest by using false names and changing his phone and vehicles.

    "If Maxwell were alive today we would be seeking his arrest," Detective Chief Superintendent Hunter added.

    "As such, I am appealing to anyone who had contact with Maxwell between November 2018 and his death."

    Maxwell had access to the property, which had been empty for some time, as he was performing maintenance on the home.

    He is thought to be the only person who had keys to the house at the time of Leah's disappearance.

    However, police confirmed there was no evidence currently linking Maxwell with Leah until this week and stressed that the investigation was still ongoing.

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    The police confirmed the investigation was now being treated as a murder inquiry.

    Detective Chief Superintendent Hunter also said that the human remains, as well as Leah's backpack and possessions, were found in the building's loft, making the inquiry "extremely challenging".

    Police went to the home in Furzton after receiving a tip-off from a member of the public around 6:30 pm on Monday (October 10), where they found the human remains alongside Leah's possessions.

    Leah lived just 10 minutes away from the property and passed it every day on her way to work.

    The home, according to the Land Registry, is owned by a Kuwaitian family, who neighbours say now live in Dubai and had let out the property in the past.

    The house has reportedly been empty for a number of years and police admitted they had visited the property at least twice shortly after Leah's disappearance, but when nobody let them in, they left leaflets and moved on.

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    The news comes after Leah's parents visited the property to leave notes paying tribute to their daughter.

    The parents made a statement today, saying police could "not have done anything differently". They added that this was the "most difficult time of our lives".

    "We ask as a family that everyone respects our privacy and immediate family," they said.

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