On 18th March 2009, Claudia Lawrence (35) was last heard from in the form of a text message, sent to a man she had met in Cyprus. The following day she would not turn up for her shift and at 12.08pm Claudia’s phone switched off, with later investigations showing that this was done deliberately.
Clauda was a chef at the Goodricke College at the Roger Kirk Centre of the University of York, where she generally worked morning shifts. On the evening of 19th Claudia was scheduled to meet her friend Suzy Cooper but didn’t turn up - causing Suzy to worry.
On the 10th March, Suzy contacted Claudia's father, and he used a spare key to enter his daughter's apartment. Mr Lawrence said: “I was worried to death quite honestly and was even more so when I went through and found that she wasn’t in the house.” It was then that a missing person's report was filed.
Police found that the only things missing from Claudia's home were her rucksack, mobile phone and chef’s whites, which suggested she had left in the early hours of the 19th of March for work. None of these items have been recovered.
There were two potential sightings reported of a woman with a man on the morning of the 19th: one by a cyclist on Melrosegate bridge at 5.35am and again 30 minutes later, when a commuter noticed a couple outside the university who looked like they were arguing. The man was described as skinny, about 5’6 and wearing a dark hoodie.
There was also CCTV footage released of a suspicious-looking man at the back of Claudia’s house on Heworth Place from 5.50am that morning, again in a black hoodie.
Using advanced techniques not previously available, the Major Crimes Unit found additional fingerprints and a man's DNA on a cigarette end in Claudia's 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 12:10 GMT on Thursday, March 19, 2009.
A number of arrests have been made, including six men on suspicion of murder, though none were charged.
Police have reiterated in the years since, that they believe those guilty are local to York and have expressed their frustration at the lack of evidence and cooperation they received when looking into Claudia’s relationships, which had an “element of complexity and mystery to them”.
The main accepted theory is that Claudia met with foul play. It's likley that her killer had been in the alley by her house, and had followed her as she left for work - if the sightings are to be beleived. As to who this man could be is currently unknown.
However, one interesting detail is that Claudia visited Cyprus on five occasions prior to her disappearance, and whilst there she had made friends. One of these friends was a man from Cyprus who she had been messaging about coming to visit - and who was the last person to recieve a text from her. The police have never revealed whether this man had an alibi, but the search for Claudia was extended to Cyprus.