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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Voices
Focus E15 Mothers led a protest to highlight the lack of affordable housing in London
voicesLondon’s housing crisis amounts to an abuse of human rights, says Grace Dent
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: Warehouse Operations & Logistics Manager

£38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's best performing...

Recruitment Genius: GeoDatabase Specialist - Hazard Modelling

£35000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our award-winning client is one...

Recruitment Genius: Compressed Air Pipework Installation Engineer

£15000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Atlas ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Pallet Network

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project