COPS have made a fresh appeal into the mystery of a woman seen crying at a lake which could hold vital clues behind the disappearance of Leah Croucher.
Leah Croucher sparked a nationwide search when she disappeared on the way to work in February 2019.
The 19-year-old had told her family the day before she was meeting a friend but that never happened.
CCTV showed her walking down Buzzacott Lane in Furzton, believed to be in the direction of her work, at about 8.15am the next day.
There were no other confirmed sightings of her – although witnesses said they saw a young woman "visibly upset and crying" while texting on her phone at Furzton Lake that morning.
The sighting came between 9.30am and 11.15am that day – AFTER the CCTV footage and after her phone inexplicably left the network, never to be used again.
It has not yet been proven whether the woman crying at the lake was Leah or not.
If it was, it would suggest the teen was upset enough about something to not make her journey to work that day as intended, MK Citizen reports.
It could also mean Leah had another secret phone – strengthening the theory held by Leah's family that she may have been in a secret relationship at the time she vanished.
Thames Valley Police this week issued a fresh statement about the case, reportedly answering a request from an admin member of an investigative Facebook group called Leah Croucher Disappearance – Community Investigation.
After outlining the basics, DCI Andy Howard told the member: “I would also like to make a further appeal regarding a female of similar description to Leah who was seen apparently upset by Furzton Lake later on the morning that Leah went missing.
"Despite previous appeals nobody has come forward with information about this person and we have so far been unable to identify her.
"It is very important for the investigation that we establish the identity of this person.
"Clearly if it is Leah then it is hugely significant but equally if this girl is not Leah then it will assist the investigation if we can preclude this person from the enquiry."
The latest update comes a month after web sleuths spotted a "girl in a red blanket" on Google Earth near a disused barn 18 miles from Milton Keynes the month after Leah went missing.
Police had searched the large house the barn belongs to and grounds almost two years ago as part of the investigation.
The home was even taken off the market while cops dug up the grounds but one resident said "nothing seemed to come of the search".
One curious member of the Leah Croucher Facebook group decided to find the property on Google Earth to see what it looked like but was stunned when she saw the mysterious figure.
She said: "I could see someone in one of the barns, looking out of a big open window. It was clearly a female and looked as though she had a red blanket of jacket round her. She was just sitting there."
The member discovered the Google Earth image was dated March 19 – the month after Leah vanished.
They added: "The more I looked at the photo, the more it seemed to resemble Leah. The girl looks the same age, she has the same hairline, same eyes and same lovely slightly chubby cheeks.
"It made shivers run down my spine. My heart was beating so fast I thought I'd have a heart attack. Could this be Leah – alive – in March 2019? And if so, how did she get to be in a barn?
"It looks as though she was in hiding or someone had hidden her – but why? The questions were running through my head."
Another dramatic twist came when a driver revealed she saw a woman being pushed into car passenger seat on the same morning – sparking fears Leah could have been abducted.
The 68-year-old driver told how she saw a pair of feet on the dashboard of a shiny black coupe car with the man behind the wheel aggressively pushing whoever was next to him down into the seat.
The motorist, who was stationary in a queue of traffic, said she contemplated getting out to check out the suspect vehicle, but the cars ahead starting moving.
She had been so concerned about the incident – which happened at about the same time that Leah disappeared – she reported it to police.
But the woman claims the call-taker seemed uninterested and, even after a second time reporting it, she never heard from the police again.
Thames Valley Police said officers took "appropriate" action over the driver's reports.
They refused to disclose further detail.
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