Mapped: Key locations in search for missing Norwich mother Gaynor Lord

Missing mother-of-three first quickly headed east, then north, in Norwich – for no apparent reason

Jane Dalton
Friday 15 December 2023 08:59 GMT
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Friend of Gaynor Lord details last call from missing mother

A friend of missing mother-of-three Gaynor Lord says she was “upbeat and happy” before she disappeared – leaving Norfolk detectives without clear leads on why she vanished.

The missing 55-year-old left work early, at 2.45 pm, and appeared to be in a hurry as she headed first for Norwich Cathedral, then for Wensum Park.

Investigators say officers have "some indications" of why Ms Lord left work earlier, but they have not been able to establish her state of mind last Friday with "any degree of confidence".

The testimony from her friend Julie Butcher also makes for an unclear picture. She told the BBC of a conversation they had before she vanished: “She was a bit busy but we were talking about Christmas and she seemed fine, no different to the usual Gaynor.”

Ms Butcher told the broadcaster she spoke to her friend at 2.15pm on Friday last week but she had to cut the call short to speak to a client. Ms Butcher said she returned the call but could not get through. She also sent a message to tell her friend she was free.

Ms Butcher said she received another call from Ms Lord at 4.15pm - minutes after the last known CCTV sighting - but she said it “sounded like a pocket call – I could hear movement in her pocket”.

This is the evidence of the last places where she was seen and the last sighting of her before her disappearance. She walked well over a mile-and-a-half, in different directions:

The missing mother walked well over a mile-and-a-half, in different directions
The missing mother walked well over a mile-and-a-half, in different directions (PA Wire)

At 2.44pm last Friday, 8 December, Ms Lord was working at the Bullards Gin counter in the basement at Jarrold department store in Norwich.

CCTV footage shows her leaving work via the loading bay at 2.46pm, more than an hour before her shift was due to end at 4pm.

She then jogs up the cobbled Bedford Street, apparently in a hurry. She is wearing a white shirt and a yellow tank-top, and is carrying a large olive-coloured coat under her arm.

At work; and captured on CCTV
At work; and captured on CCTV (PA/Norfolk Police)

She is seen on the footage at 2.47pm walking in London Street, then she must have crossed the main Redwell Street, heading east, because she was seen at 2.48pm crossing Queen Street – without waiting for a red light, narrowly missing moving traffic, heading towards the cathedral.

Around 30 minutes later, at 3.22pm, video shows Ms Lord putting her jacket on as she walks away from Norwich Cathedral through the archway, heading west again into the city.

At 3.49pm, CCTV captured her walking along St George’s Street near the Playhouse theatre, nearly half a mile away on the other side of the river.

Further north, she then walks along St Crispins Road towards Pitt Street, at 3.53pm.

A separate clip shows Ms Lord, wearing glasses and her coat, walking at 4.01pm along St Augustines Street – another half-mile from the Playhouse.

Police have not released any more CCTV footage of her after that time.

But a witness who saw Ms Lord in Wensum Park - around a mile-and-a-half from from her workplace - said she seemed calm and was doing yoga.

Police search Wensum Park for clues
Police search Wensum Park for clues (Getty Images)

At 8.10pm police were alerted to Ms Lord’s disappearance after her clothing, including a white shirt and yellow tank-top, as well as two rings and her mobile phone and glasses, were found in the park in various locations.

Her olive-coloured coat was discovered in the water.

She was identified by ID found in her handbag at the scene.

Police search teams in the River Wensum
Police search teams in the River Wensum (Getty Images)

Chief Superintendent Dave Buckley of Norfolk  Buckley said the force was keeping an open mind about what happened to Ms Lord but “everything we know is pointing to a high probability that Gaynor went into the water”.

He added: “Nobody’s seen her go into the river, nobody’s seen her go into the water. But we know she ended up in the park.”

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