Mourners line streets to say goodbye to Leah Croucher

Mourners were in tears as they lined the roads to pay their respects to Leah Croucher as her funeral took place.

Ms Croucher vanished on February 15 2019, and police confirmed in October 2022 that human remains found in the loft of a house in Furzton, Milton Keynes, belonged to the 19-year-old.

A cortege departed from White Horse Drive, Emerson Valley, Milton Keynes, at around 10.50am, ahead of a private service for friends and family at Crownhill Crematorium.

Small crowds lined the route as the undertaker walked in front of a horse-drawn hearse through Furzton, Shenley Brook End, Shenley Church End and Grange Farm.

Floral tributes featuring her name were laid out next to Ms Croucher’s coffin in the hearse, which was accompanied by a small basket with stuffed toys.

The funeral cortege for Leah Croucher
The funeral cortege for Leah Croucher (Jacob King/PA)

The horses were draped in flags bearing the crest of Hogwarts house Gryffindor from the Harry Potter franchise.

Some friends and family were also wearing red and gold scarves.

Onlookers, some in tears, were thanked by the undertaker for turning out despite the light rain.

Others held heart-shaped balloons reading “fly high” and “reach for the skies”.

People lined the streets of Milton Keynes
People lined the streets of Milton Keynes (Jacob King/PA)

Thames Valley Police said the entire cortege route was about 3.5 miles (5.6km).

Elsewhere, the Church of the Servant King in Furtzon opened its doors to remember Ms Croucher, with members of the community invited to light a candle and pray.

Rev Mike Morris, team minister, said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with Leah’s family and friends at this heart-breaking time.

“The Church of the Servant King will be open for anyone from the community to spend time in quiet prayer and an opportunity to light a candle in Leah’s memory.”

Ms Croucher’s parents, John and Claire, previously said the procession would be an opportunity for people to say their “very own private ‘goodbye’ to Leah as she goes on her final journey to the crematorium”.

They also thanked the people of Milton Keynes for their support, including through messages left on a tree in the city which have been compiled into a book by the local church.

Leah Croucher
Leah Croucher (Thames Valley Police/PA)

“As a family, this has brought us a large amount of comfort,” they said. “The time has come to finally lay our beautiful Leah to rest.”

A fundraiser, set up by the family to go to charity Missing People, has reached more than £3,000.

Ms Croucher was reported missing in February 2019 and officers found her body at the Furzton property in October 2022 following a tip-off from a member of the public.

Detectives launched a murder investigation after Ms Croucher’s rucksack and other belongings were found at the house, naming sex offender Neil Maxwell as the prime suspect.

Maxwell killed himself in April 2019 while on the run from police.

Officers believe he murdered the teenager, but have been unable to find anyone who can place him near the house where her body was found.