Video: Detectives plan new search of Claudia Lawrence’s home

THE murder inquiry into the disappearance of Claudia Lawrence has taken a dramatic new turn after detectives announced a fresh forensic search of her terrace home in York.

Claudia Lawrence

North Yorkshire Police officers are overseeing a review of the long-running inquiry which dates back four-and-a-half years after Miss Lawrence was last seen in March 2009.

A series of unsolved cases are being reviewed by the force with the launch of a £300,000 Major Crime Unit this month to investigate homicide, kidnap and rape. The new search of the house where Miss Lawrence lived alone in Heworth Road will begin today and is expected to last a fortnight, although detectives stressed the move has not been prompted by any new lead.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The force’s head of crime, Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Mason, said: “There’s no new smoking gun or startling piece of evidence. I wouldn’t want people to believe that’s the case. This is just part of the review process.”

Claudia Lawrence

The announcement was nonetheless welcomed by relatives of Miss Lawrence, who was aged 35 when she vanished.

Her father, Peter Lawrence, a solicitor from York, said: “I am grateful for the initiative by the new team investigating Claudia’s case to re-visit her house and conduct further investigations there, including DNA testing.

“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 on that morning in March 2009, is welcomed.”

Mr Lawrence earlier this month met Chief Constable Dave Jones and Det Chief Supt Mason to discuss the case when it is understood he was told about the new forensic search. However, police only confirmed the decision publicly today.

While the missing person inquiry was upgraded to a murder investigation the month after Miss Lawrence’s disappearance, detectives have found no trace of her. Police revealed she had been involved in relationships of “complexity and mystery”, which sparked lurid allegations about her private life.

Detective Superintendent Dai Malyn, who heads the Major Crime Unit, said: “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 in the future, the house may become re-occupied and these opportunities would otherwise be lost.”

He said he hoped advances in forensic science since 2009 might assist with the review, but stressed there was nothing in Miss Lawrence’s home that prompted the decision to search it again.

“Originally the house was tidy and didn’t appear to have any sign of disturbance,” he said. “But 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. These are the things that we’ll be looking at.”

It was announced this month that the suspected murder of mother-of-two Marsha Wray was among the other unsolved cases being reviewed. She vanished on January 24, 1997, after dropping her children, Philippa, then nine, and Robert, then six, off at a primary school in Harrogate.