Fears grow for missing woman

Detectives investigating the disappearance of a woman believed to have gone missing as she walked to work yesterday said they could not rule out the possibility she had been abducted.

Claudia Lawrence, 35, of Heworth Road, York, was last seen on Wednesday afternoon at the University of York's Goodricke College and later spoke to her parents on the phone.

North Yorkshire Police believe Miss Lawrence disappeared at around 5.30am the next morning after she left home with no money, cards or passport to walk three miles to her job as a chef at the college.

Speaking at a news conference at Fulford Road police station in York, Detective Chief Inspector Lucy Pope said she was keeping an open mind about Miss Lawrence's disappearance.

But she added: "It's certainly a possibility that an abduction could be involved but I have got nothing to suggest that."

Ms Pope continued: "She may have decided that she's had enough of living around here and gone away of her own free will but I have to keep an open mind that there might be some criminal activity involved."

The detective described Miss Lawrence as "happy and sociable" and said she was not aware of any problems with depression or relationships.

She said: "She has never been missing before and there is nothing to suggest that she had any concerns or worries that would make her want to leave. Her disappearance is completely out of character."

Miss Lawrence had been walking to work recently after her car broke down but did not arrive on Thursday morning and later failed to keep an arrangement to meet a friend, who contacted her father, Peter.

Mr Lawrence said his daughter did sometimes accept lifts from people she knew but would "run a mile" if approached by a stranger.

Ms Pope said there was a sighting of Miss Lawrence on a CCTV camera on Wednesday afternoon and around 30 to 40 officers were searching the areas around her route to work.

She said: "So far, we have not had any indications about where Claudia may be.

"Claudia's family are extremely distressed by her disappearance and we are anxious to put an end to their anguish."

Mr Lawrence, a solicitor from near Malton, North Yorkshire, made an emotional appeal for his daughter to get in touch.

He said: "As you can imagine, we are distressed and need your help.

"These past few days have been a living nightmare for us, not knowing what has happened, and we are sick with worry."

Mr Lawrence's voice broke with emotion as he described his daughter.

"Claudia is our lovely daughter and sister to Ali. She's very sociable, she's great with her friends and certainly not one who would go off with strangers," he said.

"Claudia, we just love you and we hope you're safe and there's absolutely no reason at all you shouldn't come back, wherever you are."

Miss Lawrence is described as white, around 5ft 6in and of slim build, with brown hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a white T-shirt, blue skinny jeans and white trainers.

Police are appealing for help to find a small blue or green rucksack which Miss Lawrence used to carry her chef's whites to work and was believed to have with her when she disappeared.



Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee