UK & World News

  • 14 May 2014, 5:04

Claudia Lawrence: Man Held Over Missing Chef

A man has been arrested on suspicion of murdering missing chef Claudia Lawrence.

He has been named locally as 59-year-old Michael Snelling, who it is understood knew her.

It is North Yorkshire Police's first arrest since she vanished five years ago and forensic officers have sealed off and searched his home in York.

The property, which is less than a mile from Miss Lawrence's house, is being treated as a potential crime scene.

The 35-year-old chef has not been seen since she failed to turn up for work at the University of York on March 19, 2009.

A North Yorkshire Police spokesman said: "The investigation team would like to stress that Claudia has not been found. Police cannot rule out the possibility of further arrests in the future as the review continues.

"Detectives investigating the disappearance of Claudia Lawrence have this morning arrested a 59-year-old man from York on suspicion of murder.

"Forensic examinations and searches are being conducted which are expected to be ongoing over a number of days. A car has also been seized as part of the inquiries."

Neighbours say the suspect's home was searched by police as part of the original investigation in 2009.

Miss Lawrence's friends and family have welcomed the latest developments.

Friend Jen King said: "I'm just glad that there's some kind of progress. Whether it goes anywhere or not, at least it shows the police are making moves and progressing with the case."

North Yorkshire Police force has always said it believed the chef had been murdered.

But a long-running investigation which focused on Miss Lawrence's relationships with men drew a blank and a new team of detectives launched a cold case review in October.

Miss Lawrence was last seen at around 3.05pm on March 18, walking back towards her home, and that night she spoke to both her parents on the phone.

It is thought something happened to her after she left for work early on March 19.

Last year, the new investigation team conducted a detailed re-examination of Miss Lawrence's home in the Heworth area of York.

And in March senior officers announced a series of new lines of inquiry on the fifth anniversary of the day she failed to turn up for work.

The announcement coincided with a fresh appeal on Crimewatch.

They said the new forensic examination of her house uncovered the fingerprints of people who have not yet come forward.

They also found the DNA profile of an unknown man on a cigarette butt in her Vauxhall Corsa.

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