Police drain lake in search for woman missing 12 years after new information

A lake is being drained in the hunt for missing Claudia Lawrence following “new information”.

Claudia, 35, was reported missing on March 18 2009 after failing to turn up to work as a chef at the University of York.

More than 12 years later police are taking their investigation into her disappearance to a lake in Sand Hutton, North Yorkshire, but will not disclose why, the Mirror reports.

Draining the lake and scouring the immediate area could last weeks, the Head of the North Yorkshire Major Investigation Team says.

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

Mr Fox did not say what information prompted the latest search – in fishing lakes eight miles from Claudia’s home – more than 12 years after she vanished.

But in March, on the anniversary of her disappearance, he said: “We continue to receive information from a variety of sources.

Some of this can be discounted because of inquiries we’ve already made. But at other times we receive information, sometimes anonymously, that appears extremely interesting and sparks full new lines of investigation.”

Meanwhile, on Thursday, divers pumped water from the smaller of the two former gravel pits. Fire pumps were attached to red pipes which appeared to lead to the larger lake.

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Three officers waded up to their armpits in the smaller lake while another monitored a screen.

Nearby, officers formed a line to search surrounding woodland with long poles and rakes. They had created a giant grid marked out with red police tape between the trees. Blue flags were dotted around as a marker for areas that need further investigation.

Claudia's father Peter, 74, died in February.

Heartbroken mum Joan, 78, spoke of her “utter shock” and distress as she awaits news.

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Earlier this week she said that soon after Claudia vanished, a scruffy-looking man with a spade was spotted in woods half a mile from the current search site.

Villagers had come to her claiming they had seen “strange activity” involving a man with a spade acting “very suspiciously”. They were convinced he was not local.

Joan said she told police but as far as she was aware the woods were not searched.

She added: “If anyone knows anything but they don’t feel they can go to the police please tell me.”

Nine people have been questioned over the years but no charges have ever been brought .

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