LEAH Croucher sleuths fear the missing teen is a victim of "sex trafficking" as they claim THEY are "really close" to solving the disappearance riddle.
Leah was 19 when she vanished after telling her family she was going to see a friend in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, on February 15, 2019.
As days went by with no arrests or suspects found in connection with the case – novice detectives launched a "community investigation" on Facebook.
After years of at-home detective work, the sleuths uncovered major new leads – and now claim they are "really close" to the truth of what happened.
A spokesman for the group – who refused to be named or pictured – told the Sun: "We want a conviction. We have no reason to damage what the CPS wants to do in time, we have no reason to get involved in that.
"We are laser focused on finding the people who were responsible for the disappearance or have information about it. And to get the conviction needed.
"If you look closely, Leah is still missing. If this was a crime of passion or a crime of anger, surely Leah would be found by now.
This truly looks like a case of a missing person, perhaps even sex trafficking.
"This truly looks like a case of a missing person, perhaps even sex trafficking."
The spokesman claimed police "watch too much television" and withhold information from the group because they "know nothing and it looks bad".
He added: "We began our own investigation because it's not that we don't trust the police, but we don't have an understanding of what's going on."
He added: "They're so vague.
"I don't know if it's because they watch too much television and they're trying to be clever, or just because they're onto something they don't want to tell us, or they just know nothing and we're making them look bad. I think it's the latter.
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"What we were seeing on our site – on our page with 6000 members – is that the vast majority believe that there's not enough information from the police.
"Because we're in control of this investigation, or it feels that way, a little bit of information would really go a long way.
"If we're going the wrong direction, tell us and we'll go the other direction. We just want to solve it."
Leads uncovered by the group include a chilling Google Earth image of a girl resembling missing Leah wrapped in a red blanket.
The image was taken near a disused barn in Eaton Bray – 18 miles from Milton Keynes – the month after she went missing.
While police had already searched the large house the barn belongs to and the grounds almost two years prior, they went onto probe the image when it was flagged by the group.
The spokesman said the barn image "gave them serious credibility" and meant the police were "listening to what we're saying".
"And I think we're putting web sleuthing on the map, certainly for our reach – if not for Britain.
"I think we can really assist the police and I think they need to listen to us and we can really help. And as a community, we are stronger."
But the spokesman added: "Anybody who approaches us with any valid information we send directly to the police first – and we've been abiding by that rule.
"What has happened since then, though, is we've sent a lot of very valid stuff to them – with no response.
We're in control of this investigation, or it feels that way.
"People who come to them contact us two weeks later to say 'the police haven't contacted us back'.
"Our point here is, let's work together with the police and the community and let's solve this thing so our kids can rest safely.
"But the police can do better. Our focus is to be on the victim at all times.
Asked if he feels that the police's lack of contact means they have nothing, the spokesman replied: "That's how I'm interpreting this. Yeah, I have no choice but to interpret that.
"Do I want it to be that way? No. Do I want to have a bad opinion of the police? Absolutely not."
The most recent image of a figure in black was sent from the group to the police.
Web sleuths think the image shows Leah the day she went missing.
The spokesman said: "We got one lead in particular recently where somebody had gone back through their Facebook profiles.
"They were a childminder, and they were taking photos of somebody.
"She went to the police and said 'I've got this photograph, it's time stamped at 10.51, it actually puts Leah in a different place than you say she was'."
When the police didn't reply in over two weeks, the group posted the image to Facebook.
I think we're putting web sleuthing on the map, certainly for our reach.
The web sleuths haven't spoken to Leah's devastated parents themselves, but that doesn't hold them back in their probe.
He added: "We speak to them through the police but we've never actually spoken to them directly – and I'm okay with that.
"You know, I've worked on cases from a web sleuth capacity in the United States and here in Britain, and I find it's sometimes easier to detach yourself from it.
"Because I certainly understand, to some degree, what they're going through but I don't fully understand.
"I think detaching yourself from the victim or their family clears your sights to attack the culprit.
"We are laser focused on what happened to her and we feel really, really close actually.
"We feel really close and someone's going to speak soon, very soon. And I think it's important that maybe when that happens, you know, I don't lose my sh**. And I think if I was connected to the family I would lose my sh**."
Thames Valley Police said the Leah Croucher case has been "one of the largest and most challenging missing person investigations in the force’s history".
Cops have undertaken over 1,400 "investigative actions" and have watched more than 1,200 hours of CCTV, a statement added.
Senior Investigating Officer DCI Andy Howard said: "We have continually engaged with the Leah Croucher Disappearance Community Investigation Facebook group, answered their questions and provided them with a detailed statement for their podcast, and so we do not accept that there is a lack of communication or that officers do not respond to all leads that are provided to the force by members of the public.
"For various reasons however, it is not appropriate to release every strand of information we receive in an investigation into the public domain."
Anyone with information can visit a police station, report online or call 101, quoting reference number 43190049929 or ‘Operation Dawlish’.
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