Missing chef's father hands out appeal posters

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The Independent Online

The father of missing university chef Claudia Lawrence walked part of her route to work today, handing out posters appealing for the public's help to find his daughter.

Peter Lawrence visited a parade of shops in Melrosegate, on the outskirts of York, with family friend Martin Dales and handed out flyers to businesses and members of the public.

Solicitor Mr Lawrence took to the streets a day after he made an emotional appeal for help to find his daughter as detectives said they could not rule out the possibility she had been abducted.

Miss 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 to walk three miles to her job as a chef at the college.

Miss Lawrence took no money, no bank cards or her passport and her family said her disappearance is out of character.

Yesterday Mr Lawrence said the family was trapped in a "living nightmare" as he appealed for his daughter's safe return at a news conference.

Today, he said was planning to spend some time walking around the area Miss Lawrence would have travelled on her way to work on the morning she vanished.

His A4 sized posters featured a picture of 35-year-old Miss Lawrence and the words: "Have you seen her?".

There was also a police telephone number for the public to call.

A clearly emotional Mr Lawrence said he was handing out the posters to keep the missing person inquiry in the public eye.

He said: "There is no reason for Claudia to be missing. She had no reason to go, no problems, no troubles.

"It appears from everything at the house as though she had set off for work with her little rucksack and left all the things at her home that she would leave if she was going to work like bank cards, jewellery and everything else.

"She tends to leave very early in the morning. There wouldn't be many people around but the more we can get this on a national and regional and local news in an ordered way then people may suddenly have their memories jogged.

"It's hellish difficult for me to do this but it has got to be done.

"I'm doing it because it needs to get out there.

"I don't want to do it. It's not something I want to do."

Mr Lawrence said people had been in touch from all over the UK and one person from abroad.

"Everybody is obviously getting in touch to say how sorry they are."

Asked how he was coping, he said: "I don't know. I don't always have the strength.

"When you're not here I may be sat at home feeling particularly weak but you have to keep going for Claudia's sake."

He said the support from family, friends and clients had been "fantastic".

Mr Lawrence said his phone and email had been "going non-stop".

"We are just so grateful to everybody," he said.

Speaking at a news conference yesterday, 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.

At the same news conference, Mr Lawrence , who lives near Malton, North Yorkshire, 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."

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

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 the 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.