Detectives have vowed to leave no stone unturned in the search for Claudia Lawrence – even though they admit they may not be able to find her.
Det Supt Dai Malyn, the head of North Yorkshire Police’s Major Crime Unit, says that “significant progress” has been made since the launch of his investigation with new leads being pursued and the identification of several people of “Very particular interest.”
But, speaking today on the sixth anniversary of Claudia’s disappearance, Det Supt Malyn warned that the force may not be able to discover for certain what has happened to the chef.
“Ultimately, we may not be able to prove what happened to Claudia, or be able to find her,” he said. “But that will not be for lack of determination, tenacity and meticulous detective work, nor while there are still clues that need to be investigated.”
Arrests in the coming weeks and months are also a possibility, he added.
Claudia’s mum, Joan said she was pleased with the progress of the Major Crime Unit - even though her daughter’s disappearance continues to be devastating for her and daughter, Ali.
“The last 18 months have been like going back to the beginning again,” she said. “I’m finding it harder and harder as it goes on. But they are determined to get some answers and I wish we had them from the beginning.
“I have got to look at this as a positive, but as a mum it is not easy. Everyone says I am brave but I am not inside. I just want to give her a hug and I can’t. I’m surrounded with presents from Claudia from other Mother’s Days. It is not knowing whether she is dead or alive that is the worst.”
Claudia was last heard from on the evening of Wednesday, March 18, 2009, after calling her mum and then her father, Peter, from her home in Heworth, York.
When the then 35-year-old failed to turn up for work at the University of York the following morning, it would be the spark for one of the largest investigations in the history of North Yorkshire Police, an investigation which has taken officers the length and breadth of the country and onto mainland Europe.
The newly-formed Major Crime Unit was tasked with taking a fresh look at the four-year-old enquiry in the autumn of 2013, and quickly made its mark – using improvements in science to find additional fingerprints, and employing experts to help pursue new leads.
It led to the arrest and interview of two men last year, with one remaining on bail while enquiries continue.
Additional arrests are also possible as the investigation continues.
Det Supt Malyn said: “In the light of information that has only recently come to the fore, we are actively pursuing what are rightly described as new leads.
“Last month, we focused our attention on the alleyway that leads to the back of Claudia’s house. This was based on specific information that this review discovered causing me and the team to believe that the alleyway had potential significance in explaining what happened to her. This is still being very actively progressed.
“There are a number of people who are of very particular interest to me. There are those who have yet to admit fully their relationship with Claudia or events in the days leading up to her disappearance. I would make a further appeal for those to come forward now and provide these explanations. If I reach the point where we believe people continue to obstruct this investigation or assist or cover up for the person or persons responsible, they will be arrested.
“This is a very intrusive process involving interviews and searches which we will do in order to eliminate or implicate them in Claudia’s disappearance.
Det Supt Malyn added: “Six years have passed since Claudia disappeared. For her loved ones, the pain caused by her absence and the circumstances of her disappearance has not faded. And nor, I assume, has the guilt and knowledge that one or more people have about what happened to this young woman.
“Our work, which is being supported and informed by a body of national experts in their respective fields, will continue for as long as it takes to analyse all the evidence that was available at the time, and the new information that has come to light since then as a direct result of our review.
“If you know what happened to Claudia, or know that you have some relevant information but have not yet come forward, then do so, today.
“Six years is a long time to live with that knowledge.”
Anyone with information that could assist the investigation should contact North Yorkshire Police.