The family of Leah Croucher has paid tribute to the "bright, funny young woman" after she was found dead in a property in Milton Keynes. Leah went missing three years ago, sparking a lengthy search and police investigation.

Leah, who was 19 when she disappeared in April 2019, was last seen yards from a property in Loxbeare Drive, Furzton where she was found earlier this month. Her body was found in the loft of the house as well as a number of her belongings, including a backpack.

A Home Office post-mortem led to Leah being formally identified on Friday, October 21. A murder investigation was launched after she was discovered and is ongoing.

Read more: Remains found at Milton Keynes home confirmed as Leah Croucher's

A police cordon was erected at the scene following her discovery, where dozens paid tribute to Leah with flowers, teddy bears and candles all left nearby. Leah's family visited the tributes ahead of her being formally identified.

The post-mortem however was inconclusive as to the cause of Leah's death. Investigations are continuing, according to Thames Valley Police .

'A shining beacon of hope has been brutally extinguished'

In a statement issued via Thames Valley Police, Leah's family hailed her as "caring soul", having also lost her brother Haydon. They said: "As a family, we knew this heart-breaking news would come one day.

"The news that Leah had been taken from us, from this world, forever. We are devastated that we have proven to be correct in this. The faint glimmer of hope that we all held allowed us to fool ourselves into believing that our assumption could have been wrong.

Leah Croucher
The 22-year-old went missing in 2019

"The deepest, darkest grief that we, Leah’s family and friends are experiencing over the past weeks shows us that glimmer was actually, foolishly, a shining beacon of hope, which has now been brutally extinguished in the cruellest and harshest of ways. It has been a long way to fall back to reality. Leah had so much to achieve in her life, milestones that will now never be met.

"Family holidays, marriage, children, promotion, having her own home. So many ‘could have beens’… The void left in our lives after Leah’s disappearance was immense, a pain almost too big to bear.

"However, there is little that compares to the deep chasm Leah’s death has brought to us. Leah was a bright, funny young woman who was a kind, loyal, helpful and caring soul.

"Her smile lit up the room and her laugh cheered all who heard it. Leah had a wonderful sense of humour, who found joy in everything she did.

"Leah was a second Dan black belt, a national and European champion in the world of Taekwondo. She enjoyed coaching the next generation of champions at the family club she ran with her dad.

Leah Croucher
Leah was a national and European champion in Taekwondo

"Leah’s presence and warmth impacted on all who knew her, her disappearance has impacted on an entire city and beyond. The world and our lives are darker for losing her in the prime of life.

"Solace is found in the belief that Leah will only finally die when the last of us who remember her dies and Leah will hopefully be remembered by a lot of people for many years to come."

"We will soon be able to lay Leah to rest, as she deserves, and say our final goodbyes, be able to grieve at Leah’s graveside and lay flowers for her. We have missed Leah for so long already, and now have the rest of our lives to mourn her as well as the memories we will never be able to make.

Leah Croucher
Leah Croucher's family said she had "a wonderful sense of humour"

"We were able to love you for 19 wonderful years Leah and make amazing memories together as a family, memories that we hope will be sufficient to carry us through the dark and lonely years we have to come. We hope soon that we will be able to look at pictures of you again, but they are too painful to even think about at the moment.

"Give Haydon a big kiss and a big hug from us baby, we miss and love you both so much, but hope that you are together now, looking out for each other as always."

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