Left behind

When people go missing, who looks out for their families? Words by Ian Wylie. Portrait by Peter Byrne.

Waiting. Peter Lawrence has spent much of the last seven years – and it will be seven years to the day on March 18 – waiting. Waiting for his younger daughter, Claudia, to call again. Waiting for police to find the reason, or people responsible for her disappearance. Waiting for a government that says one thing about wishing to help the families of missing people, yet does another… or nothing at all.

Claudia was 35 when she disappeared. On Wednesday, March 18, 2009, she finished her early shift as a chef at the University of York’s Goodricke College at 2:15pm and was recorded by CCTV on her journey home. That evening she spoke to her father and then her mother, Joan, on her mobile shortly after 8pm, chatting as they watched Location, Location, Location in their respective homes. She was due to start work at 6am the following day, but never arrived.

Left Behind

Her father received a phone call from a concerned friend whose texts to Claudia had gone unanswered. He called the university to find that she had not turned up for work on Thursday at all.

With his spare set of keys, Lawrence and another of Claudia’s friends checked her Georgian cottage in the nearby village-like suburb of Heworth. All that was missing was Claudia, her phone and her rucksack containing her chef’s whites. He reported her missing to the police.

“Claudia just disappeared,” recalls her 69 year-old father. “She was there and then were nothing at all. Her body has never been found, there have been absolutely no leads at all. She just disappeared into thin air. How can that happen?”


Read the full version in The Northern Correspondent #7