Mum was ‘last to see Leah Croucher alive’ and broke down in tears after remains found

Mum was ‘last to see Leah Croucher alive’ and broke down in tears after remains found

A mum who believes she may have been the last person to see missing Leah Croucher alive has told how she broke down in tears when police found human remains.

Tara Maher used to pass the 19-year-old every morning in the Furzton area of Milton Keynes as she walked her kids to school.

Leah vanished on February 15, 2019, while walking to work.

On Wednesday, officers discovered human remains in a vacant home after a tip-off. It has not been confirmed whether the remains belong to Miss Croucher.

It comes amid reports the detached house was once occupied by a man previously jailed for sexual offences against two teenagers.

However, it is understood he was not living in the property at the time of Miss Croucher’s disappearance.

Tara, 51, laid flowers at the scene in Loxbeare Drive and told reporters she distinctly remembered seeing Miss Croucher on the morning of the 15th.

The Tesco worker said she couldn’t hide her emotions when she heard a body had been discovered.

She told ITV on Thursday: “I used to pass her every morning and I saw her on that day, so when I heard yesterday I just broke down. Everyone is just in shock, we’re relieved for the family, but we’re in shock.

“It’s so close to home. It’s like on your doorstep… It’s just absolutely awful news but I felt I had to come down and lay some flowers for her – just an overwhelming feeling.”

Officers began searching the property on Monday evening, first finding Miss Croucher’s rucksack.

Ms Maher said she used to pass Leah at about 8.20am every day and that she seemed completely normal on the day she vanished.

She said she can recall it was a frosty morning – the last day before half term.

The mum then told the BBC : “It was no different that day – the 15th. We didn’t say hello, it was more of an acknowledgment, just a nod.”

Miss Croucher was last seen by her family on Valentine’s Day and was reported missing on February 16 after she failed to return home from work.

A police cordon remains in place as forensics officers continue to collect evidence.

Ms Maher gave a statement to police at the time she disappeared and helped with the community effort to find her, because she “did not want her to be forgotten”.

“This has come as such a shock. It’s a nice area. It hits home when it is on your doorstep,” she said.

Ms Maher said the day Miss Croucher’s disappearance was announced customers at her work were “very sombre”.

The tragic teenager’s parents visited the four-bed home this week and left a handwritten message reading “our darkest fears have come true”.