Claudia Lawrence search: Police near breakthrough as officers probe 12-year-old clues

Claudia Laurence: Police announce search at York's Gravel Pits

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Ms Lawrence was last heard from on March 18, 2009, and has been missing for 12 years. In their latest attempt to locate the missing woman, specialist officers have begun draining a fishing lake in Sand Hutton, North Yorkshire.

Six officers were pictured at the lake, eight miles away from Ms Lawrence’s home in York, after searching around a nearby gravel pit.

Experts used machinery to remove mud, vegetation and rocks from beneath the surface of the water.

Officers on land conducted fingertip searches through the leafy woodland as the hunt intensified.

The owners of the land carried out a study into the terrain and surroundings two years ago.

The results were recently passed to police and are believed to have triggered the new searches.

Detectives left the smaller of the two lakes empty.

Joan Lawrence, 78, told the Mirror she is afraid of what the police probe will reveal about her daughter.

She told the outlet: “As a mum, hearing about a lake being drained and a fingertip search being carried is just a nightmare.

“No parent should ever have to endure this. I’m left wondering every day what is going on and what might be found.

“Would it be her rucksack, her phone or anything at all?”

Ms Lawrence said she is suffering “awful nightmares” and begged anyone with information about her daughter’s disappearance to come forward.

She added: “The police must know something to go to all this work.

“They know something and I don’t – the not knowing is awful. I can’t get on with life while Claudia is missing.

“It affects every minute of my day. I’ve started having really awful nightmares again. This is the reality of living with a missing child and a live investigation.

“I am begging anyone with any information to come forward and end this eternal pain I have to endure constantly.”

Claudia’s father Mr Lawrence, who campaigned for Claudia’s Law, which allows relatives to take control of their missing loved ones’ financial matters, died in February aged 74.

North Yorkshire Police believe Ms Lawrence was murdered, and are treating the case, which has never been closed, as a suspected murder.

Detective Superintendent Wayne Fox said: “I thank the public for the positive responses and new information received in support of the current phase of the investigation.

“Our focus is on finding Claudia and bringing those responsible for her disappearance and suspected murder to justice.”

It comes as Claudia’s family fear double killer Christopher Halliwell could be connected to their daughter’s disappearance.

Halliwell, 57, is behind bars for life for murdering Sian O’Callaghan, 22, and Becky Godden, 20, after snatching them from nightclubs.

The date of the year Claudia disappeared, March 18, 2009, is also the same date years later Halliwell abducted and killed Sian.

Joan said: “Something always bothered me about Halliwell and leaves me feeling very uneasy.

“The police may not have proved he had anything to do with my daughter’s disappearance, but they haven’t disproved it either.”

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