'LIVING NIGHTMARE' My daughter Claudia Lawrence vanished 15 years ago & her dad died without knowing what happened… cops ‘missed evidence’

THE HEARTBROKEN mum of missing Claudia Lawrence has claimed that cops missed a potentially key piece of evidence while searching for her daughter.

Chef Claudia, 35, vanished 15 years ago near her home in Heworth, York.

Claudia Lawrence vanished in March 2009
Claudia Lawrence vanished in March 2009Credit: PA
Mum Joan believes her daughter is still alive
Mum Joan believes her daughter is still aliveCredit: Rex Features
Claudia's disappearance has led to a number of theories
Claudia's disappearance has led to a number of theoriesCredit: PA

Although her body has never been found, North Yorkshire Police has been treating her disappearance as a murder investigation.

Despite a string of theories over the years - including fears Claudia may have been trafficked to Amsterdam or moved to Cyprus - her disappearance remains a mystery.

Her mum Joan, 80, has never given up hope that her daughter - whose 50th birthday is next week - is alive.

She told the Mirror: “All I want on Claudia’s birthday is to know what has happened. NoShe explained: “On her 35th birthday, the final birthday we spent together, I bought Claudia a black, woollen winter coat. It hangs in my wardrobe, a poignant reminder that she isn’t here with me.”

Joan added: “No parent should have to endure this amount of pain but every day I wake up and the horror of it all begins again.

“Never did I imagine I’d be marking her birthday by pleading for answers and praying someone will tell me what happened to my daughter. 

“As I do every year, I will buy a bunch of purple tulips, Claudia’s favourite flowers, then go to church and light a candle for her. I ask anyone else who is thinking of my daughter to do the same. It brings me so much comfort knowing other people are thinking of her.”

Hundreds of officers were initially involved the search, which has cost more than £1.5million, but the probe has been scaled back over the years.

Nine people have been arrested or interviewed under caution in connection with the investigation.

Police have also submitted files to the Crown Prosecution Service but there was insufficient evidence to bring charges.

As part of the investigation, officers probed her past, her relationships and her work life in a desperate bid to find her.

At one point, detectives believed she had been with 12 lovers over five years - including some who were married.

In 2019 - ten years after Claudia vanished - the cold case investigation looked into whether convicted killer Christopher Halliwell was involved.

Halliwell is currently serving life in jail for killing Sian O’Callaghan, 22, and 20-year-old Becky ­Godden.

But officers revealed earlier this year it is "unlikely" the monster is connected to the disappearance.

Tragically, Claudia's dad died in February 2021 without ever finding out what happened to his daughter.

Joan added: “I am Claudia’s mum. Until evidence proves otherwise, I will always have hope. 

“I know some people might think I’m naive, but without hope, I have nothing. The best present I could wish for on Claudia’s birthday is answers. 

“Please, if anyone knows anything, come forward. The pain of not knowing is utterly unbearable.”

A North Yorkshire police spokesperson previously said: "It is disappointing to North Yorkshire Police that Mrs Lawrence feels such dissatisfaction.

"In 2017, the investigation into the disappearance and suspected murder of Claudia Lawrence was scaled back to a reactive status.

"This decision was taken at the conclusion of a comprehensive review and reinvestigation of the case, which commenced in 2013 and lasted four years.

"That review, which followed separate independently led inspections of the case, involved support from national experts in varying fields and the National Crime Agency.

"Even with the investigation in a reactive status, the inquiry continues to benefit from information shared by the public.

"It is our hope that Mrs Lawrence, and the wider communities of York and North Yorkshire, recognise that the Senior Investigating Officer and the Major Investigation Team take seriously all such information.

"North Yorkshire Police has consistently strived to maintain a professional and respectful relationship with Claudia’s family and this approach will continue.

"We will also continue to assess all information which reaches the inquiry for its potential development."With this in mind, we very much hope to remain engaged with Claudia’s family to keep them informed about the investigation and to provide them with any support they may require going forward."

The Sun has approached North Yorkshire Police for comment.

Claudia's disappearance is being treated as a murder inquiry
Claudia's disappearance is being treated as a murder inquiryCredit: Rex Features
Tragically her dad died without ever finding out what happened to his daughter

Tragically her dad died without ever finding out what happened to his daughtermatter how old your children are, they are still your babies. 

“This is draining for all of us. As a family, we have had to live in a state of limbo for far too long.”

Claudia was last seen after she finished work at the University of York's Goodricke College on the evening of March 18.

The alarm was raised two days later by her dad Peter after friends said they had not heard from her.

Joan claims police never carried out DNA testing on the coat she wore to work before she vanished.

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