Friday, 10 Apr 2020

What happened to Claudia Lawrence, when did the chef go missing, was she ever found and how is Christopher Halliwell connected?

CLAUDIA Lawrence disappeared a decade ago, sparking a £1 million manhunt with cops pouring through phone records and more than 2,500 statements.

But in January 2017 officers said they were scaling back the probe, leaving her mum devastated that she may never find out what happened to her daughter.

What happened to Claudia Lawrence?

Claudia Lawrence was last seen near her home in Melrosegate, Heworth, York on the evening of March 18, 2009.

The 35-year-old, who worked as a chef at the University of York, had spoken to her mum on the phone that night, giving no hint anything was wrong.

But the young woman was never heard from again — leaving officers desperately probing into her past, her relationships and her work life in an effort to find her.

At one point, detectives believed she had been with 12 lovers over five years, with some of them married.

During the investigation, a number of people were arrested over Claudia's disappearance, but none of them were charged.

And so her family has been left waiting, hoping they will one day have answers.

Other theories have been floated, with one that convicted killer Christopher Halliwell was involved in her disappearance.

The date was said to be significant to wannabe serial killer Halliwell — whose former garden in Swindon was dug up by cops in the search for more victims.

The murderer abducted and killed his second known victim on March 19, 2011 — exactly two years after Claudia vanished.

When did Claudia Lawrence disappear?

Claudia was last heard from on March 18, 2009, with reports that she was last seen walking towards her home on Heworth Road.

The next day, the 35-year-old never made it to work at 6am, with the chef also not heading to her local pub that evening.

Her family made an emotional plea for help days after she was last seen.

More than a month after the missing person's report was opened, police upgraded the investigation to suspected murder.

Detectives also revealed there had been a reported sighting of the 35-year-old at Melrosegate Bridge, with a woman spotted alongside a hooded man.

A year after her disappearance, her best friend Suzy Cooper appealed for help, saying: "We want it to end. We want her back."

Has the Claudia Lawrence case been closed?

In January 2017 police announced that they were scaling back the investigation into Claudia's disappearance.

Assistant Chief Constable Paul Kennedy said: "It is not for the want of trying that a breakthrough has not yet come, but rather the result of the continuing refusal of those who know what happened to Claudia to come forward and tell us the truth.

"The case will not be closed until those responsible for Claudia’s disappearance and, we believe, her murder, are brought to justice.

"Whilst the current review team will and has been scaled down, the new Cleveland and North Yorkshire cold case dedicated team will still have responsibility to review any information that is considered relevant.

"Disappointing news though this is for Claudia’s family, we have not given up hope, and I do believe that one day we will be able to tell them what happened to Claudia."

The missing woman's family has vowed to keep searching with her mum Joan saying: "I realise the recent police team have worked very hard to try and get answers, and I know they feel people are still lying to them, but I can’t allow Claudia’s name to be forgotten.

"I will do everything in my power to ensure people keep searching for my beloved and precious daughter."

The first pictures of Claudia Lawrence's home were later released by Joan, who showed how the house had barely been touched since her daughter vanished.

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