Sunday, July 15, 2012

Claudia Lawrence:Detectives Try To Increase Pessure On Killer.

Missing chef's murderer may already have spoken to police, says head of inquiry team as father appeals to killer's conscience

Claudia Lawrence’s father, Peter, with her best friend, Suzy Cooper, at the University of York as her friends and family marked the second anniversary of her disappearance. Photograph: Anna Gowthorpe/PA
Police and relatives have made a new attempt to increase pressure on the presumed killer of Claudia Lawrence, the university chef who disappeared two years ago.

The murder inquiry has been scaled down after repeated frustrations over the fate of the 37-year-old, but detectives believe their quarry may retain links with York, where she vanished on her usual walk to work, and could be among hundreds of people already interviewed.

The head of the investigation, Detective Superintendent Ray Galloway, said on Friday that there was "a real potential" that he and his team might have spoken to the killer. The North Yorkshire force believes that Lawrence's "complex and mysterious" connections to a number of male friends hold the answer to the riddle.

"I have a knowledge and understanding and context of Claudia's life and her relationships," said Galloway. "I just need somebody to make sense of elements of that information. There are certain people in particular that I need further information about."

Suggestions that some of these may be married men unwilling to give information about any friendship with Lawrence have been part of the inquiry's frustrations. But Galloway said he was encouraged by unflagging public interest in the case.

"I think about the investigation day in, day out. I think people expect me to continue working on it, on behalf of Claudia's family and the wider community," he said. "Until Claudia's killer is brought to justice there is a danger and we need to resolve it."

The original inquiry team is no longer working full-time on the case but Galloway said officers could be recalled at short notice to deal with fresh developments.

Meanwhile, Lawrence's father appealed to the conscience of both the presumed killer and anyone who might be shielding them.

Speaking at the University of York, where Lawrence failed to arrive at her college kitchen on 19 March 2009, after being seen the previous evening close to her home in the suburb of Heworth, Peter Lawrence said the family was "distraught" at the continuing failure to resolve the case.

"I have said continuously throughout the past two years there is someone out there who does know what happened to Claudia," he said. "There's someone who knows a member of their family or a neighbour or a workmate or a friend who they know has some information about Claudia's disappearance.

"If they have any conscience at all, they must come forward. They must know what we are going through and we really do need to be put out of this anguish which has plagued the family for the past two years."

Lawrence's mother, Joan, who is divorced from Peter Lawrence, said this week that she believed her daughter was alive, and dismissed talk of multiple boyfriends as "not the Claudia I know".

Galloway said that if Claudia walked through the door it would be "the best birthday present ever" but admitted that finding her alive was unlikely.