"Nothing can close that void" - Claudia Lawrence's friend describes life without her five years on

Darlington and Stockton Times: Jen King with Peter Lawrence, father of Claudia Lawrence at the Community Pride Awards in 2012 Jen King with Peter Lawrence, father of Claudia Lawrence at the Community Pride Awards in 2012

ONE of Claudia Lawrence’s closest friends has said until the mystery of her disappearance is solved, “nothing can close the void” created by her absence.

On the eve of the fifth anniversary of Claudia Lawrence’s disappearance, one of her friends, Jen King, from York, has described the emotional limbo those closest to her still feel.

Claudia Lawrence was last seen after leaving work at Goodricke College, part of York University, on the afternoon of March 18, 2009. After speaking to her parents by telephone that night, she has not been seen or heard from since.

Despite a huge police operation involving more than 100 police officers, no sign of her has yet been found. Police believe she was murdered, but it remains one of Britain’s most high profile, unsolved cases.

A review of the case was one of the first tasks of an expanded, better financed major crime unit in North Yorkshire towards the end of last year. The latest investigation is believed to have produced new leads – concerning Ms Lawrence’s last-known movements - which will be aired on BBC’s Crimewatch on Wednesday, along with a police appeal to trace two vehicles seen in the area at the time.

Ms King praised the recent police work, but said remembering details from five years ago had formed a challenging part of the process.

“I had the police round recently and they were doing a fantastic job; they’re still interviewing more than five years on to see if there’s something that could have been missed at the time. But everything I mentioned five years ago has started to slip my mind.”

She added: “It’s so frustrating for them – I can imagine they can look back at my previous statements. It’s unsettling for me because at the time it was fresh in my mind. If they had asked me then I could have expand on it, but they wouldn’t have thought to ask me then.”

Ms King said she hopes the new police appeal for information will end the anguish of not knowing felt by her family and friends.

“Five years on and we’re no closer or further away from knowing what has happened to her,” she said.

“It’s like paralysis; it’s like waiting to wake up from this situation that I never asked to be found in but we can’t shake ourselves out of it. It’s like waiting for the alarm to go off.

“We just have to get on with life. We all have to get on with work and get on with our lives, but when you’re sat in your chair at the end of the night you think; “where is she? How is she doing? Is she alive? Has someone got her? I try and think what the best possible situation would I want for her; do you want her to be alive so you can see her again, or do you want her to be looking down on you?”

Jen said Claudia, whose parents and older sister Ali lived in Darlington, and was brought up in Malton, had a wide circle of friends and she was constantly in touch with family and friends.

“When she wasn’t around people herself, she was texting or phoning people. She was never someone just to sit around on her own. She liked to be in touch with people. I supposed she was like all of us in our thirties; a fear of missing out on something.”

Jen said until there was some resolution, confirming exactly what happened to Claudia “nothing can close that void”.

“Until it’s resolved in some respects, whether by confirming she has passed on or whether it’s confirmed that they have found her and she’s still alive there will be nothing that can close that void.”

The Crimewatch appeal will be aired on BBC1 at 9pm on Wednesday (March 19).

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