Went missing 18th March 2009

Claudia Lawrence (then 35), who lived in Heworth and worked at the University of York, went missing on 18th March 2009. Police believe she was murdered.

In May 2014 Michael Snelling (59) from York was arrested on suspicion of murdering Ms Lawrence. This is by far the most significant development in this inquiry in five years.

Ms Lawrence was a chef who worked in a kitchen at York University. She was last seen at around 3.05pm on 18th March, walking back towards her home, and that night she spoke to her parents on the phone. It is thought something happened to her after she left for work early on 19th March. She was reported missing by her father Peter Lawrence on 20 March 2009. Extensive searches of the area were made, but she was not found and police have since treated her disappearance as murder.

North Yorkshire police launched a review of the investigation last year after the force established a new major crime unit.

Previously, in March 2013 Claudia Lawrence’s mother, Joan Lawrence, then the Deputy Mayor of Malton, where she lives, had urged an independent review of the original North Yorkshire Police investigation. At that time, Cllr Lawrence described the police’s attitude as “infuriating”. She said she wanted detectives to make a “fresh start” and “go right back to the beginning”. She felt that in the first investigation there had been too great a focus on her daughter’s personal life and that opportunities had been missed in the early days. She said “I think they have made so many mistakes from the beginning. I think the first 72 hours are crucial, and this is where they slipped up.”

The most significant turn in the new inquiry prior to this arrest was a Crimewatch appeal on the fifth anniversary, a few weeks ago, when police revealed they had carried out new searches in Ms Lawrence’s home and had found new DNA and new fingerprints. There were subsequent calls from the public after that appeal.

It seems that progress is finally being made in an investigation that appeared to be at a dead end.

North Yorkshire Police have been carrying out forensic examinations at Snelling’s house in Burnholme Grove, York and at another house in North Shields, Tyneside, where his mother used to live. Police have also seized a car and said further arrests could not be ruled out.

Note: This report was drawn from the BBC, Daily Mail and the Guardian.

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