Claudia Lawrence’s mother says she is too frightened to turn on the TV in case of ‘bad news’ as police scour ponds and woods for signs of her daughter
- Joan Lawrence, 78, says she ‘prays for answers’ on disappearance every day
- Police have refused to reveal what sparked this week’s large-scale searches
- Claudia was reported missing in 2009 after failing to turn up at work in York
The mother of missing chef Claudia Lawrence has said she too frightened to turn on the TV in case of bad news.
Joan Lawrence, 78, says she has been doing everything to keep herself busy after police scoured woodland and a fishing lake eight miles from her York home yesterday.
Officers used machinery to remove mould and rocks from beneath the surface of the water while police on land conducted fingertip searches through leafy woodland as the hunt intensified.
Miss Lawrence was reported missing after she failed to arrive for work at the University of York on March 18, 2009.
The police’s sudden interest in the area at Sand Hutton to the east of York could only have been sparked by new information, a friend told MailOnline on Wednesday.
The mother of missing chef Claudia Lawrence Joan Lawrence (pictured), 78, has said she too frightened to turn on the TV in case of bad news
Claudia Lawrence (right, with her father Peter) was reported missing after she failed to arrive for work at the University of York on March 18, 2009
Machinery pumps have been used to filter out the lake to make it easier to look for clues
Specialist officers and staff, including underwater search teams, and forensic experts are expected to spend days at the site.
Mrs Lawrence told the Daily Mirror: ‘It’s been truly awful and every parent’s worst nightmare
‘I’d rather have no news than bad news, but I do dread there being bad news. I pray for answers every day. I am really thrown by what is happening now.
‘They’ve made me nervous. What are they searching for? The bag, for the phone? For her? I’m worried about my daughter but it’s always been my instinct that she is still alive. I can’t give up hope. That’s what keeps me going.’
She said the constant stress she has lived with for 12 years since Claudia’s disappearance has left her with alopecia and having to wear wigs.
Mrs Lawrence said ‘something must have triggered’ the latest searches off but she has little faith in the police’s investigative work.
Claudia Lawrence failed to arrive for work at the University of York on March 18, 2009
Police continued their search today in the woodland and the lake in Sand Hutton
She said she feared double murder Christopher Halliwell could be connected to the case.
Keen fisherman and cabbie Halliwell, 57, is behind bars for life for murdering Sian O’Callaghan, 22, and Becky Godden, 20, after snatching them from nightclubs.
But many connected to his case believe he has further victims, including Ms Godden’s mother who has previously said she knew of a witness who saw Halliwell talking to Claudia back in 2019 before she disappeared.
Stephen Fulcher — the detective superintendent who caught the killer — has also gone on record to say there were ‘clear indications’ he had other victims, although did not go as far as name them.
The date of the year Claudia disappeared is also the same date years later Halliwell abducted and killed Sian.
It is thought the day is significant because he was dumped on that same day by an ex over a decade ago.
The police searches started earlier this week with no announcements before officers arrived
Halliwell, 57, is behind bars for life for murdering Sian O’Callaghan, 22, and Becky Godden, 20, in two brutal attacks
Mrs Lawrence said: ‘Something always bothered me about Halliwell and leaves me feeling very uneasy.
‘The police may not have proved he had anything to do with my daughter’s disappearance, but they haven’t disproved it either,’ she added to the Mirror.
The operation in and around the gravel pits near the village of Sand Hutton began on Tuesday.
On Thursday, Detective Superintendent Wayne Fox said: ‘I thank the public for the positive responses and new information received in support of the current phase of the investigation.
‘Our focus is on finding Claudia and bringing those responsible for her disappearance and suspected murder to justice.’
Police officers are back again at gravel pits in land at Sand Hutton to the east of York used by fisherman over the years
Mr Fox has not disclosed what information has prompted the search activity 12 years after Ms Lawrence went missing.
Earlier this week, Mrs said the new searches have left her in ‘utter shock’.
She told reporters she was ‘very, very churned up’ about the latest developments in the investigation.
Police believe Ms Lawrence – who lived in the Heworth area of York and worked at York University – was murdered, although no body has ever been found.
She was last seen on March 18 2009. North Yorkshire Police has conducted two investigations and questioned nine people in relation to her disappearance and suspected murder, but no charges have ever been brought.
Police search teams arrive on site as North Yorkshire Police investigate the disappearance
Speaking after he took over as senior investigating officer in the case earlier this year, Mr Fox repeated the belief that several people know, or have suspicions about, what happened to the 35-year-old.
Ms Lawrence’s father, Peter, died earlier this year without knowing what happened to his daughter.
He had campaigned tirelessly to get answers to the puzzle of her disappearance and spent years arguing for what became the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Bill – also known as Claudia’s Law – which allows relatives to take control of their missing loved ones’ financial matters.
Martin Dales, a friend of Mr Lawrence, said this was the first development in the case since his death, and described the situation as ‘bittersweet’.
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