Following today’s arrest of a man on suspicion of the murder of Claudia Lawrence, we look at the six-year investigation by North Yorkshire Police in more detail.
• Claudia Lawrence was last seen on Wednesday March 18 2009 and was reported missing by her father on Friday March 20 after concerns were raised when she failed to turn up for her 6am shift at York University.
Independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers offered a reward of £10,000 to anyone providing information which led to the arrest and conviction of any person linked to the disappearance, but this has since been withdrawn.
North Yorkshire Police said that any past personal acquaintances of Claudia had a limited time to come forward “in confidence”. The force received over 1,200 calls offering information, and an appeal for help was made by Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York.
• In early June 2009, a reconstruction of Lawrence’s last known movements was featured in a Crimewatch appeal. The feature generated more than 60 telephone calls. Also in June, 100 days after his daughter went missing, Peter Lawrence launched a YouTube appeal for information. In the appeal, he stated his belief that the internet was vital in the search.
• In September 2009, North Yorkshire Police revealed that the search for Lawrence had been extended to Cyprus. Detective Superintendent Ray Galloway stated that Lawrence “knew several people who live on the island” and that she may have “received job offers” while there. Galloway also stated that some people who had been interviewed had been “reluctant and less than candid” when spoken to, and that a team of officers had been sent to Cyprus to interview people whom Lawrence met there. It was reported that the last text message received by Lawrence was from a man who was on the island.
• Later in September, detectives investigating the Lawrence case made a search of an area of the university where Lawrence worked. In October 2009, North Yorkshire Police revealed they were looking for the driver of a “rusty white van” who was seen trying to talk to women on Lawrence’s route to work in the days before she disappeared.
• On March 24 2010, North Yorkshire Police began searching areas of Heslington in York, based on new information received “in the last few days”. On March 24, land near to a children’s play area, near a muddy farm track, was searched, and on March 25 the search was relocated to a field near to the university, an area of land which is bordered by a playing field and student accommodation. It was later stated that North Yorkshire Police had not found any new leads from these searches and nothing of significance had been discovered.
• In late December 2011, the family of Claudia asked that the unknown person who had placed a wreath on the front door of Claudia’s home each Christmas from 2009 onwards to stop placing them, as it was bringing further grief.
• In June 2013, North Yorkshire Police announced the £300,000 creation of a new Major Crime Unit (MCU), set up to ease the burden on day-to-day policing. Based in Harrogate, the MCU was to be tasked from October 2013 to handle crimes including rape and kidnap, and review cold cases. In July 2013, the force said the unit would assess several “stalled” cases when it opened in October, including the disappearance of Claudia Lawrence.
• The MCU subsequently assessed the case, and carried out new forensic searches at her home on Heworth Road. Using what were described as “advanced techniques not available in 2009”. The MCU found additional fingerprints and a man’s DNA on a cigarette end in her car. Work surrounding her Samsung D900 mobile phone showed from cell site activity that she was in the Acomb area of York in the weeks leading up to her disappearance, and that the phone was deliberately turned off by someone at about 12:10am Thursday, March 19 2009.
• On the fifth anniversary of her disappearance, a new appeal was made on the BBC’s Crimewatch, which aired on March 19 2014. CCTV footage, recovered in 2009, showed a silver Ford Focus hatchback car, manufactured between 1998 and 2004, driving along Heworth Road. The car’s brake lights come on as it approaches Claudia’s house.
• On May 13 2014, a 60-year-old man was arrested. Officers carried out searches of a home in the Burnholme area of York and another in the North East. However, the arrested man was released from his bail without charge in November.
• The only other person arrested in connection with the case, a 46-year-old who was questioned on suspicion of perverting the course of justice last July, is still on bail.
• On March 23 2015, police announced that a man in his 50s had been arrested on suspicion of murder, following a fresh search of an alleyway near to Claudia Lawrence’s home and the release of new CCTV footage taken the night she disappeared.