Police investigating the disappearance of Leah Croucher in Milton Keynes have named a suspect.
During a live conference with national and local media, Thames Valley Police have confirmed that they have nominated a suspect in connection with the investigation into the disappearance of Leah Croucher in Milton Keynes.
The suspect has been named as convicted sex offender Neil Maxwell.
On Wednesday (12/10), Thames Valley Police announced a murder investigation had been launched in connection with the Leah Croucher investigation, after a number of items linked to the investigation were found.
The significant update in the inquiry came following a call from a member of the public on Monday, specialist officers and forensic teams have since been attending the location.
During the ongoing investigation at the scene, human remains were identified.
Officers say that they are "dealing with a difficult and challenging scene" and are conducting investigations "thoroughly and with dignity".
A Home Office post-mortem examination is expected to take place on today (14/10), although this may take some time, as will the formal identification of the deceased person located inside the property.
Maxwell was found dead on 20 April 2019 having taken his own life.
"It is unusual to name a suspect, but we have also learned this week that during the time when Leah went missing, and whilst the owner of the property was not in the UK, Maxwell was the only person to have keys to the property.
"Maxwell had been employed by the home owner to carry out some property maintenance at the house. We now know that Maxwell had keys to this property from November 2018.
"Whilst Maxwell has been nominated as a suspect, this does not mean he is guilty of any offence. We will keep an open mind, and our detailed investigation will seek to gather sufficient evidence to establish the truth. This may or may not implicate or exonerate Maxwell or any other persons from the investigation."
Maxwell has previous convictions for sexual offences against females and was wanted in connection with a sexual assault in Newport Pagnell in November 2018.
The sexual assault was reported to Bedfordshire Police on 29 November 2018 and the case was transferred to Thames Valley Police the same day.
"We first attempted to arrest Maxwell in connection with the sexual assault the following day, 30 November 2018, at an address in central Milton Keynes, but Maxwell was not present.
"During this time, we established that Maxwell was at an unknown location in Scotland at one stage, but further arrest attempts were continually made throughout the UK at various different addresses."
Police say Maxwell knew he was wanted in connection with the sexual assault and was travelling across the UK and making concerted efforts to evade arrest, including using false names and changing his mobile phone and vehicles.
Police have confirmed that there has been no direct link between Maxwell and Leah until Monday this week when we were called about the property in Loxbeare Drive.
"If Maxwell were alive today, we would be seeking his arrest in connection with this investigation, so he could be interviewed under caution to provide his account.
"As such, today I am appealing to anyone who had contact with Maxwell between November 2018 and his death in April 2019 or anyone who has information that might help our inquiry to contact Thames Valley Police.
"If you have any information please contact us by visiting Thames Valley Police website or calling 101, quoting ‘Op Innsbruck’.
"If you do not wish to speak directly with police, you can also call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111."
Statement read by Detective Chief Superintendent Ian Hunter from Leah's parents:
"We would like to take this opportunity to thank Thames Valley Police for all their efforts over the past three years and eight months.
"We believe that they could not have done anything differently, they have always approached every conversation with dignity and compassion.
"As a family, we ask that everyone respects our privacy as well as our immediate family, at what is one of the most difficult times of our lives."