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What happened to Claudia Lawrence? The latest updates 15 years after her disappearance

Police issue plea for anyone with information to break their silence after 15 years and come forward

It is 15 years since Claudia Lawrence went missing in York. (PA)
It is 15 years since Claudia Lawrence went missing in York. (PA)

Police have made an appeal for new information on the 15th anniversary of the disappearance of Claudia Lawrence.

She was last seen on 18 March 2009 and the case has been treated as a suspected murder by North Yorkshire Police.

On Monday, the police issued a plea for those with information to break their silence after 15 years and come forward.

The force has conducted two investigations and questioned nine people but no charges have ever been brought.

Yahoo News UK examines what happened to Claudia Lawrence and the questions that remain.

When did Claudia Lawrence go missing?

Claudia Lawrence, a chef at the University of York's Goodricke College, was last seen on 18 March 2009.

The then 35-year-old started her shift at the college's Kirk Centre at 6am that day, then finished at 2pm, and was seen on CCTV leaving work a few minutes later.

At about 3pm, she was recorded on CCTV again passing a shop near her home in Melrosegate and was spotted by a neighbour.

Police forensic officers entering the home of Claudia Lawrence in Heworth, York, in October 2013. (PA)
Police forensic officers entering the home of Claudia Lawrence in Heworth, York, in October 2013. (PA)
North Yorkshire Police searching a field in March 2010 in the Outgang area of York, close to York University, as part of the investigation into the disappearance of Claudia Lawrence. (PA)
North Yorkshire Police searching a field in March 2010 in the Outgang area of York, close to York University, as part of the investigation into the disappearance of Claudia Lawrence. (PA)

That evening, she spoke to her parents on the phone and her mother Joan described her daughter's mood as normal and relaxed.

Lawrence sent a final text message at 8.23pm but no one has heard from her since.

After failing to attend an arranged meeting with a friend in a pub the following evening, and not turning up for work on both the 19 and 20 March, she was reported missing.

Police believe she left her house at about 5am on 19 March to go to work but never arrived.

She would have celebrated her 50th birthday on 27 February this year.

What is the latest in the Claudia Lawrence case?

On Monday, on the 15th anniversary of her disappearance, North Yorkshire Police made a new appeal for information.

Acting assistant chief constable Wayne Fox insisted the inquiry was not closed.

He said: “Having been appointed senior investigating officer in October 2020, I am fully aware of the complexities that exist in this inquiry, which sadly has to be treated as that of a suspected murder.

“However, the single barrier to unlocking the answers for Claudia’s loved ones and bringing those responsible for her disappearance to justice, remains the same – silence.

Watch: Claudia Lawrence inquiry 'not closed 15 years after she disappeared' say police

“Silence from the people who know, or may suspect, what happened to Claudia but have, so far, for reasons that are only known to them, been unable to come forward to the police or even pass on information to Crimestoppers anonymously.

“There may be many reasons as to why they have been unable to come forward, however, my plea to them on reaching 15 years of living with the knowledge you have is to do the right thing and make a report.

“You can help bring an end to the pain and uncertainty for Claudia, her mum and all who love her.”

What happened to Claudia Lawrence?

North Yorkshire Police have long treated the case as a suspected murder.

Police believe she was murdered but her body has never been found and no charges have been brought.

The last major police operation in relation to the case was in 2021 when officers spent a number of days conducting an extensive search of flooded gravel pits at Sand Hutton, near York.

File photo dated 24/08/21 of Police officers searching the land at Sand Hutton Gravel Pits near York in connection with the disappearance of Claudia Lawrence. Detectives have marked the 15th anniversary of the disappearance of the university chef with a plea for those with information to break their silence. Issue date: Monday March 18, 2024.
Police officers searching the land at Sand Hutton Gravel Pits near York in August 2021 in connection with the disappearance of Claudia Lawrence. (PA)

The investigation has been in a "reactive phase" since 2017 but police said their cold case review unit continues to receive information.

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After her disappearance, a number of theories were considered by North Yorkshire Police.

These included that Lawrence had left with a new lover; that she had suffered an accident on her way to work; that she was the victim of a chance encounter with a serial killer or that she was the victim of someone known to her.

Police extended the search to Cyprus, where Lawrence had gone on holiday a number of times and knew a number of people on the island.

At the time, the force said her disappearance may have been linked to one of the relationships she had with men whom she had met at her local pub, the Nag's Head.

What is the new podcast about Claudia Lawrence?

A new podcast, titled, Claudia Lawrence: A Mother's Story, was released by the BBC last Friday.

Split into four parts and lasting a total of 49 minutes, it features an interview with Claudia's mother, Joan.

In the podcast, Joan spoke about a plan to put her daughter's house up for sale and how it might help someone who is homeless or seeking refuge from abuse.

Claudia's father, Peter, died in 2021, three years after he was awarded an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours for his campaigning over his daughter's disappearance.

Claudia Lawrence with her father Peter. (PA)
Claudia Lawrence with her father Peter. (PA)

He had campaigned for the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Bill, also known as Claudia's Law, which came into force in 2019 and allows the family of a missing person to apply for guardianship of the person's estate 90 days after their disappearance.

Fox said: "I cannot begin to understand the pain that Joan and her family feel every single day.

"For such pain and despair to continue for 15 years without knowing where your child is, or what happened to them, well that is far beyond what any mum or dad should ever have to live with.

"I also think about Claudia’s dad, Peter, who tragically passed away three years ago without ever knowing what happened to his daughter."

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