A NEW forensic search has begun at the home of missing York chef Claudia Lawrence.
Several experts from North Yorkshire Police’s Major Crime Unit entered the house, in Heworth Road, this morning, as part of a cold case review into her disappearance.
Claudia was 35 when she was reported missing in March 2009, and has not been seen since, despite a major investigation which extended to the Republic of Ireland and Cyprus, and at one point involved more than 100 police officers. Her disappearance is now treated as suspected murder.
Jim Melson is leaseholder of The Nag’s Head public house, a few doors away from Claudia’s home, where she regularly met with friends.
Mr Melson said: “The first I heard of it was this morning when the news crews were outside. Police dropped off a leaflet to tell us what’s going on, and asked if they could use the car park, and that’s it.”
The leaflet said: “Most cold case review work considers forensic re-evaluation as an investigative strategy and this investigation is no different. Forensic science is continually evolving and we hope that scientific advances since Claudia was reported missing in March 2009, will assist with our review of the case.
“The residents of York have given tremendous support to the investigation over the years, which is very much appreciated. We would again like to thank you for your patience and understanding.”
Mr Melson said he hoped the investigation would be successful, and the Major Crime Unit would be able to give Claudia’s family more of an idea what had happened to her.
He said: “I can’t imagine what Peter Lawrence is going through. I sympathise with him, having a young daughter myself, the thought horrifies me. The police have got a job to do and if they’re successful finding out what’s happened it would be fine by me, I think it would be to everyone. That’s what everyone wants.”
A NEW forensic examination of the home of missing York chef Claudia Lawrence will start today as police launch a cold-case review of the investigation into her disappearance.
North Yorkshire Police said the work at the Heworth Road house is part of attempts to look at the case through “fresh eyes” and see if advances in forensic science unearth new evidence and clues.
Claudia was 35 when she vanished in March 2009, and the force wants to study her house now in case it is ever sold or somebody else starts living there. They will concentrate on the inside of the house, with the work expected to take about two weeks.
Detectives have not ruled out re-interviewing people who have already been spoken to during the investigation as part of the review, if deemed necessary. Claudia’s disappearance is being treated as suspected murder. The forensic search of her home has not been sparked by new leads or evidence, but is part of cold-case procedure.
The case is among those being looked at by North Yorkshire Police’s new major crime unit, whose head, Detective Superintendent Dai Malyn, said: “Forensic science is continually evolving and I hope scientific advances since Claudia was reported missing will assist with our review of the case.
“Most cold-case review work considers forensic re-evaluation as techniques advance, and this case is no different. I am also mindful that, at some point, the house may become re-occupied and these opportunities would otherwise be lost."
The force's head of crime, Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Mason, said: "We believe there are opportunities and techniques which can be employed to discover any evidence which may still be there.”
DCS Mason said the force would not “walk away” from the case while there were still "reasonable lines of inquiry" to be followed, and there was still time for people with information about Claudia to come forward. He said: “Their circumstances of almost five years ago could be completely different to their circumstances now, so they should not feel embarrassed or frightened.”
Det Supt Malyn, the senior investigating officer in the Claudia case, said her home had been “tidy and didn’t appear to have any sign of a disturbance” after her disappearance, but said: "That's not to say you can't do something in a house then tidy it up to make it look as if everything was ordinary."
He said it was “never too late” to provide information, even if it seemed “small or irrelevant”. "As ever, we will afford anybody who contacts us our full attention if they think they have information which could assist," he said.
Claudia’s father Peter Lawrence said he was “grateful” to the unit, saying: “Advances in forensic science and testing in the past four years make this a very worthwhile exercise, and anything which helps the search to find Claudia, or at least find out what happened to her, is welcomed.”
Police officers will be handing leaflets to local residents and passers-by when the forensic examination of Claudia's home begins to explain the purpose of the work there.
Any information about Claudia's disappearance can be passed to North Yorkshire Police by phoning 101 and asking for the major crime unit, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by contacting Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.