Police searching for missing Claudia Lawrence began uncovering the floor of a fishing lake today as her mother urged detectives to look at double murderer Christopher Halliwell again.
North Yorkshire Police this morning began searching through the waters eight miles from her York home, using machinery to remove mould and rocks from beneath the surface.
It came as Claudia’s month Joan Lawrence said she feared the double killer could be connected to the case.
Keen fisherman and cabbie Halliwell, 57, is behind bars for life for murdering Sian O’Callaghan, 22, and Becky Godden, 20, after snatching them from nightclubs.
But many connected to his case believe he has further victims, including Ms Godden’s mother who has previously said she knew of a witness who saw Halliwell talking to Claudia back in 2019 before she disappeared.
Stephen Fulcher – the detective superintendent who caught the killer – has also gone on record to say there were ‘clear indications’ he had other victims, although did not go as far as name them.
The date of the year Claudia disappeared is also the same date years later Halliwell abducted and killed Sian.
It is thought the day is significant because he was dumped on that same day by an ex over a decade ago.
Joan said today: ‘Something always bothered me about Halliwell and leaves me feeling very uneasy.
Police divers are pumping air into the bottom of the lake surface to remove silt and debris to search underneath
The police operation is so large experts said it must have been prompted by a piece of specific intelligence on the lake
The equipment is not big enough to drain the lake but will be used to displace the ground below to uncover clues.
Police divers are searching a fishing lake for any clues as to what happened to Claudia after she vanished 12 years ago
Police divers are currently searching the waters at a fishing lake at Sand Hutton in an effort to crack the 12-year-old case
Halliwell, 57, is behind bars for life for murdering Sian O’Callaghan, 22, and Becky Godden, 20, in two brutal attacks
Joan Lawrence said she feared killer Christopher Halliwell could be connected to the case after learning of lake development
Police officers are back again at gravel pits in land at Sand Hutton to the east of York used by fisherman over the years
‘The police may not have proved he had anything to do with my daughter’s disappearance, but they haven’t disproved it either,’ she added to the Mirror.
Miss Lawrence was reported missing after she failed to arrive for work at the University of York on March 18, 2009.
The police’s sudden interest in the area at Sand Hutton to the east of York could only have been sparked by new information, a friend told MailOnline yesterday.
Specialist officers and staff, including underwater search teams, and forensic experts are expected to spend days at the site.
Peter Faulding of Specialist Group International, a diving forensic team not involved in this search, told MailOnline it appeared as if they were trying to displace silt and debris on the lake floor.
He said: ‘I think what they are doing is using a suction dredge that will remove gravel and leaf mould from the pit by sucking it to the surface where is passes through a mesh to enable the forensic teams to look for any evidence.
‘This suction dredge is controlled by a diver on the bottom in a specific grid pattern so nothing is missed.
‘They will also be conducting fine fingertip searches over the same area and using underwater metal detectors for items of jewelry and other evidence.
‘I would imagine they are searching with some very good intelligence.’
Halliwell, 57, is currently serving two life sentences for murdering Sian (left) and Becky (right)
Police search teams arrive on site as North Yorkshire Police investigate the disappearance
The fishing spot near York, is being searched by police investigating the suspected murder
North Yorkshire Police said its latest search at Sand Hutton gravel pits could take many days
The force said it could not disclose what had led officers to the location eight miles from York
Sian O’Callaghan and Halliwell’s confession
2011 – March 18: Sian O’Callaghan, 22, goes for a night out with friends in Swindon. She fails to return home and is reported missing the following day by her family.
– March 24: Halliwell is arrested. An ‘urgent interview’ is carried out by detectives. Halliwell starts journey to Gable Cross police station but is diverted to Barbury Castle where he meets Det Supt Fulcher.
Halliwell shows detectives the location where he hid Miss O’Callaghan’s body and later directs them to Eastleach, Gloucestershire, where years earlier he had buried missing sex worker Becky Godden-Edwards.
– March 26: Halliwell is charged with the murder of Miss O’Callaghan.
– May 23: Halliwell is charged with murder of Miss Godden-Edwards.
2012 – January 30: A trial judge, Mrs Justice Cox, rules Halliwell’s confessions to the murders of both women are inadmissible because of breaches of Pace.
– October 19: Halliwell pleads guilty to the murder of Miss O’Callaghan during a hearing at Bristol Crown Court and jailed for life with a minimum of 25 years.
2014 – May 15: Mr Fulcher resigns from the police force after he was found guilty of misconduct for not reading Halliwell his rights when he first confessed to killing Miss Godden-Edwards.
2015 – February 18: Halliwell is arrested on suspicion of the murder of Miss Godden-Edwards. He tells Superintendent Sean Memory he will accept responsibility for Miss Godden-Edwards’ murder provided the police do not ask further questions about other offences he may have committed.
2016 – March 30: Halliwell is charged with Miss Godden-Edwards’ murder.
– September 5: Halliwell goes on trial at Bristol Crown Court for Miss Godden-Edwards’ murder.
– September 19: Halliwell is convicted of Miss Godden-Edwards’ murder.
– September 23: Halliwell is sentenced to a whole life order by the judge, and will never be released.
Authors of a new book The New Millennium Serial Killer say he targeted petite women over a 20-year period.
Former police intelligence officer Chris said: ‘The pair were spotted by witnesses at the side of the road talking, perhaps arguing.
‘We believe Claudia then left with Halliwell in his vehicle.’
The sighting was also relayed to Joan by Ms Godden’s mother Karen Edwards.
Karen said in 2017: ‘This witness said he saw Halliwell talking to Claudia through a taxi window.
‘Claudia was asking if he had change so she could ring her dad from a call box.’
Former detective Mr Fulcher also believes the killer has more victims yet to be discovered.
He said earlier this year: ‘It’s a matter of justice that crimes attributable to Halliwell are thoroughly and vigorously pursued.
‘There are clear indications there are other victims.
‘For the next of kin of those victims, there are consequences of their daughter missing day after day, when there appears to be no effort to seek at least to resolve the matter
‘For the next of kin of victims they don’t cease to suffer as a consequence of missing their daughter.
‘The cost of the crimes that Halliwell committed is incalculable.
‘If you don’t investigate homicide then there’s really no reason to have a police force.’
North Yorkshire Police has previously dismissed any link, saying: ‘It can be confirmed on information provided by Wiltshire Police, that there are no known links between Halliwell and the Claudia Lawrence case.’
It did not respond to MailOnline this morning when asked again if there was any connection.
Yesterday Martin Dales, a friend of Miss Lawrence’s late father Peter, told MailOnline: ‘The police did everything they could at the time, searching the river, the waters at the university.
‘You don’t press the button on an operation like this unless there is a good reason for it.
‘There must have been some kind of new information about this area.
‘I can think of a lot of places as far away that have not been searched before.
‘I don’t know where the decision to search here has come from – nobody knew anything about it.’