Police fear missing chef 'has come to harm'

The detective in charge of the search for missing university chef Claudia Lawrence voiced fears today that she may have come to harm after meeting up with someone she knew.

Detective Superintendent Ray Galloway said it was "extremely rare" for someone to be abducted from the street by a stranger.

He was speaking a week after Miss Lawrence was last seen leaving work at the University of York.

He said it was possible that the 35-year-old had met up with someone the night before she disappeared.

"My focus is on the people that she knew," he said.

"She would not have got into a vehicle that she didn't know and she wouldn't have gone to meet somebody that she didn't know," said Mr Galloway.

"I believe that Claudia is with or has gone with somebody that she knows."

He said Miss Lawrence spoke to her parents last Wednesday evening and exchanged mobile text messages with two friends.

The next day her phone was switched off or powered down and has not been located.

Mr Galloway said: "She was a prolific texter. We have now gone through Mother's Day. She was somebody that was always in contact.

"She was very, very social. She was speaking to her friends and family all of the time.

"That stopped around about 8.30 on Wednesday evening. Why did that stop? I must be concerned that she has come to harm."

Police today released CCTV footage of Miss Lawrence arriving and leaving Goodricke College, where she worked, last Wednesday.

As she was walking home, she was picked up by a colleague and dropped off at her home in Heworth.

"Seven days on I am extremely concerned," Mr Galloway said.

"My professional judgment is that Claudia has probably come to harm."

He said that, while police had no "tangible" evidence of a crime, there was no reason to believe that Miss Lawrence had harmed herself as she was not depressed and had no financial problems.

He said police were focusing the investigation on people Miss Lawrence knew and appealed to anybody who knew of any relationship she might have had in the past.

He continued: "I would appeal to anybody who knows of a historic relationship or association she might have had with somebody and that's where it will lie."

Miss Lawrence did not appear on any CCTV footage from her normal route to work on Thursday morning, the detective said.

Mr Galloway said North Yorkshire Police were bringing in officers from other forces to help with the search but the focus of the investigation was still on York.



Friends and family described Miss Lawrence as a "creature of habit" and said her disappearance was "totally out of character".

Making a television appeal for her friend's return, Suzy Cooper said: "Claudia's a very sociable and popular person. Everybody likes her and she likes everybody.

"She's a very sweet-natured girl and she's also a creature of habit. She's not someone that's spontaneous and would just flit off somewhere, so the whole thing is totally out of character for her."

Yesterday, Miss Lawrence's father Peter, a solicitor from Slingsby, North Yorkshire, walked part of her route to work, handing out posters appealing for the public's help to find his daughter.

He described Miss Lawrence's disappearance as a "living nightmare".

Her mother, Joan Lawrence, of Norton, North Yorkshire, said she had offered her daughter money for a taxi to work but she turned it down as she "liked walking for the exercise".

Police said Miss Lawrence had no money, bank cards or passport with her when she went missing.

She 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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Voices
Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and David Cameron appeal to the audience during the Question Time special
voices
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living