In Depth

What happened to Claudia Lawrence?

This week marks tenth anniversary of disappearance of the University of York chef

Police investigating the disappearance of Claudia Lawrence exactly a decade ago this week say they believe “key and vital information” that could help solve the case has been withheld.

The University of York chef was 35 when she vanished. North Yorkshire Police have been treating the case as a suspected murder investigation, but no body has been found and no suspects have been charged.

Here is what we know about her disappearance.

Where did Claudia Lawrence go missing?

Lawrence was last seen just after 3pm on Wednesday 18 March 2009 as she walked home from work to her house on York’s Heworth Road. She spoke to her parents on the phone at 8.10pm and sent a text message to a friend at 8.23pm, but did not arrive for work the following day. Police were alerted after she also failed to meet up with a friend that evening.

Detectives believed Lawrence had left for work on the Thursday morning, as it appeared she had made her bed, eaten breakfast and cleaned her teeth, but her phone and rucksack have never been found.

In the following weeks, police took more than 1,000 statements and reports, and searched more than 1,200 properties, gardens, outhouses and student halls.

In June 2009, a reconstruction of Lawrence’s final movements was broadcast on BBC One’s Crimewatch. During the programme, officers revealed that Lawrence had relationships with “complexity and mystery to them”.

“We believe there are certain areas of Claudia’s life that remain a mystery. It is apparent that some of her relationships are complicated and are not known to her family,” said Detective Superintendent Ray Galloway, then in charge of the case.

The investigation is one of Britain’s biggest missing person enquiries and cost more than £1.5m, but has been scaled back over the years, says The Sun.

Has anyone been arrested?

Nine people have been arrested or interviewed under caution in connection with the investigation, reports The Independent. However, while police wanted to charge a number of individuals, the Crown Prosecution Service found that there was insufficient evidence.

There was speculation that double killer Christopher Halliwell, who murdered Becky Godden and Sian O’Callaghan, might have been involved in Lawrence’s disappearance, but police have said there is nothing to indicate a link, adds Sky News.

Why has the case not been solved?

The investigation has been frustrated by a lack of CCTV footage in the area and the fact that Lawrence did not have a smartphone, a computer or social media profile. There is also no official crime scene.

A review of the case in 2013 using new forensic techniques found no sign of blood or a struggle in her home, but the following year police revealed they had discovered unknown fingerprints in the house, along with man’s DNA on a cigarette butt in her car.

What do police and her family think happened?

Police do not believe Lawrence fell victim to an attack by a stranger. Detective Superintendent Dai Malyn, now in charge of the case, says he strongly suspects “key and vital information is being withheld that could provide the breakthrough that we all want to see”.

“Unless we get information or intelligence to suggest that Claudia came to harm as a result of an opportunity taken by someone unconnected to her, me and the team still strongly believe the answer lies locally,” he said.

“As with some recent cold case successes, the breakthrough has come from the public and we still have confidence that this will be the case.”

Lawrence’s father, Peter, said last week that it is “very difficult” to believe she could still be alive. However, her mother, Joan, told Good Morning Britain this week that she still holds on to the belief that her daughter has been abducted and may not be dead.

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