Claudia: New Evidence 6
by CHRIS CLARK & TIM HICKS
Claudia Lawrence aged thirty-five was a chef at the University of York’s Goodricke College. She was due to walk three miles to work on Thursday 19th March 2009 for a shift beginning at 6:00am, but did not turn up for work. She was reported missing the next day and North Yorkshire Police (NYP) designated her disappearance as “no body” murder shortly afterwards.
For years, retired Norfolk Police Intelligence Officer Chris Clark has asserted that serial killer Christopher John Halliwell was a very strong suspect for Claudia’s murder. Her abduction and murder fitted with Halliwell’s modus operandi, Halliwell’s whereabouts at the time of her disappearance were unknown and there have been sightings of him in Yorkshire.
The authors have examined Halliwell’s links to North and South Yorkshire and the attacks he may have committed there in a series of articles.
- Article 1 covered an attempted abduction in York in 2009 and can be read here.
- Article 2 covered a sighting of Halliwell in Sheffield in 2010 and two nearby murders in 1994 and 2001, which may be related and can be read here.
- Article 3 covered a bizarre encounter with Halliwell at the Kilburn White Horse on the North York Moors and can be read here.
- Article 4 covered a series of incidents involving Halliwell in Pickering and can be read here.
- Article 5 covered new evidence on the Haxby Road abduction and the author’s contact with Operation Major, which is the Wiltshire Police operation that coordinates the investigation of Halliwell across all forces. It can be read here.
All five articles should be read before proceeding.
This article analyses the implications of the new evidence in the Claudia Lawrence investigation on the murders of Dawn Shields and Michaela Hague in Sheffield, South Yorkshire.
Incident 3.1. Sighting of Christopher Halliwell at Tinsley Marina, Sheffield: New Information
On or about 19th August 2010, Victim 3 was in the Tinsley Marina in Sheffield, where narrow-boats are moored and she saw Christopher Halliwell fishing there.
This was part of a wider pattern of sightings of Halliwell in Yorkshire shown in the map Halliwell’s Yorkshire, here.
In Article 2 in this series (here), the authors suggested that Halliwell could be involved in the murders of two Sheffield prostitutes – Dawn Shields in 1994 and Michaela Hague in 2001.
While the sighting of Halliwell by Victim 3 was in 2010 and the two murders took place in 1994 and 2001, it nevertheless places Halliwell in Sheffield fishing and narrow-boating, close to the red light district and both abduction points. He was a narrow boating enthusiast, so this may not have been his first visit there.
“Long before I started working with Tim, I did a lot of research on the murders of Dawn Shields and Michaela Hague in Sheffield. The new evidence received in connection with the murder of Claudia Lawrence has a major impact on my analysis of these two murders and I have decided to re-examine them”.
The new information has required the map of the Sheffield attacks to be re-worked and the updated version can be viewed here.
Dawn Shields was a single mum who was forced into prostitution by her boyfriend. She disappeared on Friday 13th May 1994, while working Sheffield’s red-light district at Broomhall Road. She soon attracted a client who picked her up in a cream-coloured car. Dawn charged between £15 and £25 pounds and did not allow her clients to linger. By 12.45am, she was seen back on Broomhall Road and getting into a dark-coloured hatchback.
A friend who was looking after Dawn’s 11-month-old son, reported her missing at 7.30am on Saturday, May 14 1994, and then notified Dawn’s mother.
A week later, on 20th May 1994, Dawn’s body was discovered by a National Trust warden who was test-driving a four-wheel drive vehicle over Mam Tor, a hill in the Peak District. He got out of the vehicle to answer a call of nature and spotted something which aroused his curiosity. He investigated further and found Dawn’s body. It had been very skilfully concealed about one hundred and fifty yards off the road. Had it not been for the warden, the body would not have been discovered for some considerable time afterwards.
Dawn’s body was naked and had been partially buried and concealed with rocks and debris. She had suffered severe head injuries and was strangled. Police believe her body may have been there for up to a week. Dawn’s clothes were never found. At the time the road was closed because it was subsiding and there had been cold weather and heavy rain the previous week, which deterred walkers. This meant that there were no witnesses and the rain had destroyed the forensic evidence. Police believe she was killed elsewhere before her body was taken to the remote Mam Tor. They were unable to trace the owner of the hatchback.
The new evidence published in Article 2 in this series (here) is that Halliwell was positively identified fishing from a narrow-boat in Sheffield in 2010. This now confirms that Halliwell visited Sheffield on narrowboat holidays on the Sheffield and Tinsley Canal, as Chris had always suspected. Halliwell may also have worked in Sheffield as a builder or groundsman.
The Sheffield and Tinsley Canal eventually connects to the Ashford Canal at Manchester and then on to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. (See Canal and River Trust map of the canal system here). It is highly unlikely that Halliwell would have just stayed in one basin for all of a canal holiday. So the conclusion must be that he probably used the Sheffield and Tinsley Canal to travel on along the canal network to Hebden Bridge, Leeds, Manchester, Doncaster, Rotherham, York and/or Liverpool. Other than York and Hebden Bridge, all of these locations have RLDs. Halliwell enjoyed using prostitutes, so these cities would have been very attractive to him and he may have used a narrow-boat to visit them.
In Article 4 in this series, Victim 3 stated that, in 2011, Halliwell
“asked me if I used cabs and which ones. I said Malton cars, he said he was touting for business and could I put this card on the notice board. He was staying with friends for a while with a view to moving up here permanent. He said he knew Sheffield because he took students to their digs there at Kelham, Broomhill and Broomhall, and also to Nottingham and York”.
Halliwell was working as a minicab driver in Swindon from at least 1990, so this conversation now completely verifies that Halliwell was visiting Sheffield prior to the murders of Dawn and Michaela. Broomhall is a student area which coincidentally is in the red light district (RLD). Kelham Island is close to the RLD
Both murders have common themes to them which are Halliwell indicators
- Dawn and Michaela perfectly fitted Halliwell’s victim preferences, being petite and easy to overcome.
- As with the abduction and murder of Becky Godden-Edwards Dawn Shields and Michaela Hague were prostitutes, enticed into a car at night.
But there are specific factors to the two individual murders that are classic Halliwell indicators.
Dawn was abducted at Broomhall Road, less than two miles from the Sheffield and Tinsley Canal moorings at Victoria Quay. Serial killers like to operate in areas they are familiar with. Halliwell was familiar with the Broomhall area because he routinely drove students to their digs there. Had he just driven a student back to college and then decided to stay and commit a murder?
At the time, the Police believed that Dawn had been murdered in a different location to the one where her body was found concealed. This location has never been identified. So there are three points in Dawn’s murder:
- The abduction point in Broomhall [D Shields AP].
- The place where Dawn was murdered [D Shields DS1, which was not identified].
- The deposition site at Mam Tor [D Shields DS2].
Unusually, these points are probably spread over the route A57, A6013, A6187, A623, a distance of 18 or 19 miles by car to Mam Tor, which is in a different Force area. Bizarrely, the killer was driving around for some or all of this distance with a dead woman in his car. As can be seen from the map below, the murders of Becky Godden Edwards and Sian O’Callaghan also showed this multiple point pattern with the body being transported in a car to a deposition site in a picturesque rural area in another force area.
Insert Map Known deposition sites
C:\Users\Tim Hicks\Downloads\Halliwell – Known Deposition Sites.jpg
Becky Godden-Edwards was last seen getting into Halliwell’s cab outside a nightclub on East Street, Swindon, [Abduction Point BG-E: AP] in January 2003. After he had murdered Becky, Halliwell took her body to another location which has never been identified [BG-E: DS1]. and dismembered it. He then took it to a third location and buried it [BG-E: DS2]. Sian O’Callaghan was walking home from a nightclub on High Street Swindon and was spotted by Halliwell [SO’C: AP]. Sian got in and Halliwell killed her shortly afterwards by stabbing her in her head and neck with a knife, which was probably the knife seen by Victim 3 at her work in Pickering a few weeks before. Halliwell took Sian’s body to the Savernake forest [SO’C: DS1] and concealed it there. When he realised that the police were searching the Savernake Forest in the Wiltshire Police force area, he moved Sian’s body to the White Horse at Uffington, Oxfordshire, in the Thames Valley Police force area [SO’C: DS2]. In both murders it is unclear where the victim was killed.
In both cases, Halliwell moved both bodies in short journeys of between 11 and 19 miles in rural areas, at night. This reduced the possibility of being stopped by the police in a traffic stop, being picked up on CCTV or being seen by other drivers or residents. Dawn was also moved in short hops within a 13 mile radius.
Halliwell abducted Becky Godden Edwards and Sian O’Callaghan in the Wiltshire Force area and buried their bodies just over the Force boundary in the Gloucestershire Constabulary and Thames Valley Police Force areas, respectively, because he knew that this would make it a multi-force investigation, which would make the investigation more complex. Likewise, Dawn Shields was abducted in the South Yorkshire Police Force area and her body deposited just over the border in the Derbyshire Constabulary Force area.
Dawn may have been murdered in a car at Broomhall. However, the authors suspect that Dawn was lured out of Sheffield to a more secluded rural location on the route to the deposition site at Mam Tor, which had probably been pre-selected. She may have been lured by the promise of a larger fee in return for sex on the bonnet of the car or in public, in a rural setting.
New information has come in to the NYE which may help indicate the place where Dawn was murdered:
“I am originally from Sheffield. Spitalfields was known as a red light area especially the Harlequin pub. We only went a couple of times on the way to Kelham Island pub scene. The Quin, as it was known, catered for the working girls with rooms available above the pub. Last time I heard it was still open.
When I was in my 20’s we used to drive out to pubs like Fox house inn, Ladybower inn, Strines etc for tea or a carvery and a bevvy on summer Saturday/Sundays; no-one seems to do that anymore.
On the route you showed from Broomhall to Mam Tor is a massive lay-by called Cutthroat Bridge Car Park just before Ladybower Inn. It is known to be an area which prostitutes use for their clients. The lay-by was always full, I wondered why. I thought they were just walking the hills.”
When he was in prison, Halliwell took a close interest in the Moors murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, who buried their victims on Saddleworth Moor on the Pennines. The car park at Cutthroat Bridge is secluded and in an area of outstanding natural beauty, with the same moorland features as Saddleworth Moor. As a result of this information, it is now clear to the authors that Cutthroat Bridge Car Park was used by prostitutes and would fit with Halliwell’s preferences.
Some more research by the authors has revealed that the National Trust Car Park at Mam Tor known as the Mam Nick Car Park was/is used for “dogging”*1 although it is unclear if this was the case in 1994.
Could one of these two locations be the murder point that Dawn was lured to and then strangled to death?
It is possible that Halliwell was familiar with Mam Tor and the area along the A57 because:
- Mam Tor is nine miles away from the Ladybower Reservoir, which is famous for its fishing. It draws fishermen from all over the country and this may have attracted Halliwell to the area. The route from Sheffield to Mam Tor goes right past it.
- At the base of the deposition site for Dawn Shields at Mam Tor and nearby, are four show caves: Blue John Cavern, Speedwell Cavern, Peak Cavern and Treak Cliff Cavern where lead, blue john, fluorspar and other minerals were once mined. The Blue John Cavern is one of the four show caves in Castleton, Derbyshire, England. The Speedwell Cavern is a tourist attraction for boating enthusiasts like Christopher Halliwell. It consists of a horizontal lead miners’ adit (a level passageway driven horizontally into the hillside) leading to the cavern itself, a limestone cave. The adit is permanently flooded, resulting in Speedwell Cavern’s (locally unique) feature: after descending a long staircase, the visitor makes the journey into the cave by boat. Originally the guide propelled the boat by pushing against the walls with his hands, later the boat was legged through, now it is powered by an electric motor. It is two miles Mam Tor and on the direct route from Mam Tor deposition site to the abduction point in Sheffield.
*1: The NYE is quite sure that our readers will not be familiar with this term. It means engaging in public sex while others watch: Editor.
Michaela Hague was a prostitute who was picked up at Bower Street and murdered half a mile away at Spitalfields in Sheffield (now Derek Dooley Way) in a secluded car park opposite The Manchester public house (which later became The Harlequin), in the early evening of 5 November 2001. She had been stabbed multiple times. From the time they arrived to the time the murderer’s car left was thirteen minutes. Another prostitute found her and called the Police.
Brave Michaela was able to give a description of her murderer to a Police Constable before she died. He drove a blue Ford Sierra with a roof rack, which was rusty and had tools on the back seat.
The Crimewatch UK appeal from November 2001 can be seen here at 36 minutes.
There are a number of common themes that link Halliwell to this crime:
- Serial killers like to operate in areas they are comfortable and familiar with. Halliwell is known to have delivered students to Kelham which is about 300m from the abduction point at Bower Street and 300 meters from the place where Michaela was murdered and her body dumped. The area is about 1.1. miles from the Tinsley Marina where Halliwell was seen fishing in 2010.
- Michaela Hague described her assailant to a Constable as She described him as white, clean shaven with short fair hair, medium build, 5 foot 8 inches tall with glasses. He wore a wedding ring, a gold sovereign ring on his left hand and a thumb ring with a dolphin on his right. It had been seen in Sheffield by other prostitutes in the preceding months. He was tall and in his 30’s. He had grimy jeans, his hands were oily and he was wearing a blue fleece. Christopher Halliwell bears a very close likeness to both artists’ impressions of the prime suspect issued by the police, one of which can be seen in the lead illustration next to Halliwell’s photograph for comparison. There are photographs of Halliwell wearing sun glasses on holiday and various items of jewellery including necklaces and a ring. He was thirty seven years old in 2001.
- The prime suspect in Michaela Hague’s murder had been seen by other prostitutes in Sheffield in the months before Michaela’s abduction, but not since. Indicating a visitor or itinerant worker, consistent with Halliwell’s lifestyle.
Misogynistic Policing still alive and well in South Yorkshire Police
Victim3 read an appeal on the 10th anniversary of Michaela’s murder which had a photofit of the prime suspect that reminded her of Halliwell. She contacted South Yorkshire Police and the Sheffield Star:
“I messaged the Sheffield Star and South Yorkshire police when I saw an article I believe in the Sheffield Star about the 10th anniversary of Michaela Hague’s murder. The Star had run an article about the officer, who I recognised from a break in nearby his name was Twigg, he found Michaela in a car park. Dawn Shields was mentioned as part of the article. So the date would be approx Nov 5th 2011 the 10th anniversary, it had the photofit that looked like Halliwell.
Neither the Star or South Yorkshire Police came back to me.”
Chris and Tim had a similar response.
Chris emailed South Yorkshire Police asking them to contact him about information he had on the murders of Dawn and Michaela and it didn’t bother replying.
—— Original Message ——
Sent: Tuesday, 11 Apr, 2023 At 16:49
Subject: Murders of Dawn Shields & Michaela Hague
Please could you pass on to your Major Investigation Team Cold Case Manager
I am a retired Norfolk Constabulary intelligence officer now true crime author.
I have information which might help progress the unsolved murders of Dawn Shields and Michaela Hague
Please ask them to e-mail me at [REDACTED]
Chris Clark (Mr)
The authors have no doubt that if the victims had been school teachers, housewives or related to a policeman, that these contacts would have been responded to instantly. But Dawn and Michaela were prostitutes and so it appears both these contacts were therefore ignored.
[Maps by FAD]
Coming next: “Claudia: New Evidence 7”.
Right of Reply
If you are mentioned in this article and do not agree with the views expressed in it, or if you wish to correct any factual inaccuracy, please let me know using the firstname.lastname@example.org email address and your views and a correction will be published if appropriate.
NYE Appeal for Information
Whenever the authors run an article on a cold case, the NYE always runs an appeal for information, to try to keep the case in the public eye and generate information.
Christopher Halliwell had a slim athletic build and spoke with a slight Swindon accent. You can see and hear him in the video here.
Did he offer you a lift in his minicab?
Did you know of Christopher Halliwell’s Father Alan Keith Halliwell who is believed to have lived in Huddersfield, York, Ampleforth and/or Oswaldkirk and who previously served in the RAF at Swindon and other locations?
Did you see Christopher Halliwell staying in a bed and breakfast or hotel along the A19, in Darlington, Middlesbrough, Scarborough, York or the North York Moors area?
Did you see Christopher Halliwell:
- Fishing at Scarborough?
- Fishing at Whitby?
- Fishing at Scaling Dam?
- Fishing at Sand Hutton Gravel Pits?
- Fishing at York University Lake?
- In York?
- At Ampleforth?
- At Oswaldkirk?
- At the Kilburn White Horse?
- At the Nag’s Head or the Acomb Hotel in York?
- In Middlesbrough?
- Fishing at Scaling Dam?
- Fishing along the River Tees?
- Fishing at Scarborough?
- Fishing at Whitby?
- Fishing or narrow boating in Sheffield?
- On the North York Moors?
- In Darlington?
- At Llangollen, North Wales?
Any information would considerably assist our knowledge of Halliwell’s movements. So please contact the NYE in complete confidence using our email address: email@example.com if you think you can help.