Body found in search for Gaynor Lord not being treated as suspicious

Body found in search for Gaynor Lord not being treated as suspicious

December 16, 2023

EXCLUSIVE Woman’s body found in search for Gaynor Lord did not die a suspicious death, police say – as new footage shows missing 55-year-old’s last known moments

A Home Office post-mortem has taken place after the discovery of a body in the search for missing mother-of-three Gaynor Lord, as police confirm they are not treating the death as suspicious.

The probe found no indications of third-party involvement, Norfolk Police said, with formal identification set to take place on Sunday. The 55-year-old’s family have been made aware of the latest development and continue to be supported by specialised officers. 

It comes after new footage of the missing mother’s last known moments were revealed this morning as her distraught daughter took to social media to confirm the tragic news that a woman’s body had been found.

Mrs Lord went missing after leaving her workplace at Jarrolds department store in Norwich more than an hour before her shift was due to end on December 8.

As the search entered its second week on Friday, specialist police divers began a new search of the River Wensum and tragically found a body, which was later recovered in a black bag from the water. 

Clothing brand owner Charlotte Lord shared the tragic update with friends on Friday

Mrs Lord was caught on CCTV walking up Bakers Road at 4.03pm on December 8

The mother-of-three (pictured) walked out of her workplace over an hour before her shift was due to end and hurried through the streets of Norwich

Chief Superintendent Dave Buckley, Norfolk’s County Policing Commander, said on Saturday: ‘The post-mortem examination has found no signs that any other parties were involved.

‘Although our searches have concluded, officers are continuing to work to establish the full circumstances surrounding Gaynor’s disappearance. We will pursue all lines of enquiry to understand why she went missing.

‘Our thoughts remain with Gaynor’s family at this incredibly difficult time.’

Wensum Park was closed throughout the investigation but has now reopened.

Until today, it was understood that Mrs Lord, 55, headed directly from Norwich city centre to Wensum Park, where her clothing and belongings, including her spectacles, jewellery and mobile phone, were found last Friday evening.

Previously, the most recent CCTV image released by the police, described as the last view of the mother-of-three on December 8, showed her walking up St Augustine’s Street, which leads onto Aylsham Road, and then onto Drayton Road to reach Wensum Park at 4.01pm.

But the new video obtained by MailOnline shows that a short time later she made an unexpected diversion off St Augustine’s Street for some reason, passing along a short pedestrianised stretch into Bakers Road, after being caught by a camera at the corner.

In the video, timed at 4:03pm, which only shows her from the back in her olive coat with the belt hanging loose, she appears to be walking purposely.

As she walks to the furthest limit of the camera’s range, she appears to stop for a few seconds, just as the timer ticks over to 4:04pm.

The source of the CCTV, the owner of a business on the road, confirmed to MailOnline that Mrs Lord did not return the same way.

Mrs Lord’s daughter, clothing brand owner Charlotte Lord, shared an update from Norfolk Police after specialist divers made the tragic find in the River Wensum in Wensum Park, Norfolk on Friday. 

After she shared the devastating news that the body of a woman had been discovered, friends were quick to offer their support, with one writing: ‘I am so sorry to read this Charlotte. Have been thinking of you and your family non-stop the last few days.’

A second said: ‘No words. Just so sorry and sending much love to you and your family.’

A childhood friend added: ‘So sorry to hear this Charlotte. We all have really fond memories of spending time with your family growing up. Thinking of you all.’

It came as friends of Mrs Lord’s husband Clive told the Times he has been left ‘totally lost’ by the discovery.

‘He doesn’t understand at all what’s happened’, they added. 

And Julie Muddel, who is married to Mrs Lord’s first husband, Paul, said: ‘My stepson told me Gaynor was the best she had been for a long time. She loved her job, she absolutely loved it. She was making new friends, and she was the happiest she’d been for a long time.’ 

Local MP Clive Lewis also commented on the discovery, saying: ‘This is awful news whether it’s Gaynor they’ve found or not. Someone has lost their life and their loved ones will be in pieces. My heart goes out to them, and I wish them comfort and strength.’

Confirming the discovery on Friday, a Norfolk Police spokesperson said: ‘Specialist divers from Lincolnshire Police’s underwater search team found the body of a woman in the River Wensum this morning following several days of detailed and methodical searches.

Police search teams on the River Wensum in Wensum Park, Norwich, on Friday

Gaynor Lord was last seen on December 8 as she left work early from Norwich city centre

‘Formal identification is yet to take place but Gaynor’s family were immediately informed of developments and continue to be supported by specially trained officers.’

A post-mortem is due to be carried out, but police say at this stage they have no evidence of any third-party involvement and do not believe Mrs Lord met anyone prior to entering the park. 

Chief Superintendent Dave Buckley said that Mrs Lord’s case remains a missing person’s inquiry and they do not believe she met anyone on the way to Wensum Park, where her belongings were found exactly a week ago.

He said: ‘While we establish the woman’s identity, our thoughts remain with Gaynor’s family at this difficult and distressing time. We have specialist family liaison officers supporting and keeping them updated with our work.

‘We remain open minded to the circumstances surrounding Gaynor’s disappearance and will continue to pursue lines of enquiry to understand why she went missing. I am keen to say this remains a missing person investigation.

‘We’ve been able to trace Gaynor’s movements through CCTV in the city and at this stage, we’re satisfied there is no evidence that Gaynor met anybody on the way to the park.

Police vehicles seen at the bank of the River Wensum in Norwich on Friday

This timeline shows what we know so far about how Gaynor Lord’s disappearance unfolded

Police divers yesterday found a body in the river, marking the location with an orange buoy before retrieving it from the water

‘While this is not the outcome we wished for, our search has always predominantly focused on the river and the park.

Timeline of Gaynor Lord’s movements before going missing 


 2.44pm – Gaynor is working at the Bullards Gin counter in the basement at Jarrold department store – her clothing is clearly visible

2.45-2.46pm – She leaves the store via loading bay on Bedford Street

2.47pm – Walks onto London Street past Cosy Club

2.48pm – Gaynor makes her way onto Queens Street and walks toward the Cathedral

3.22pm – Gaynor is seen on The Close at the cathedral entrance – shortly before exiting through the archway she puts her coat on

3.23pm – She is seen to walk away from the cathedral on Queens Street – here you can see a clear image of the coat she was wearing

3.49pm – This is the last sighting of Gaynor on CCTV near the Playhouse on St George’s Street

3.53pm – Walks along St Crispins Road towards Pitt Street

4.01pm – Gaynor walks up St Augustines Street – her final movements captured in CCTV before going missing 


12pm – Police divers pull a body from the river 

‘A post-mortem examination will be carried out to establish the cause of death, however I would reiterate that at this stage there is no evidence of third-party involvement. Nothing in our enquiries so far has changed this position.’

He also told reporters: ‘We remain open-minded to the circumstances of Gaynor’s disappearance, and we’ll continue to pursue all lines of inquiry to ascertain why she went missing. I’m keen to say this remains a missing person inquiry at this stage.

‘I am also satisfied at the moment, based on the evidence that we have, that Gaynor did not meet anyone on the way to the park, and we now have a better understanding of her movements through the city centre.’

The officer added: ‘I would reiterate at this stage that there is no evidence of third party involvement. Nothing in our inquiries have changed this position.’

Specialist police divers were seen searching an area of the River Wensum on Friday morning before finding a body, which they then pulled out of the water in a black bag.

Police yesterday revealed that they have ‘some indications’ as to why Mrs Lord left work early on the day she vanished, but also admitted they have not been able to establish her state of mind when she went missing with ‘any degree of confidence’.

It came after Mrs Gaynor’s friend Julie Butcher shared her ‘regret’ after being forced to hang up on the mother-of-three on the day she went missing in order to answer a work call.

She promised to phone her back, but when she did five minutes later, there was no answer. 

Ms Butcher told Sky News: ‘I wish I hadn’t have answered that call. [I] Really wish I hadn’t have answered that call. And then she may have talked to me a bit more or I might have found out the reason why she was calling me.

‘I just wish I’d have kept her on the phone and not taken that phone call because you never know, she might have said something.’ 

Speaking about the last time she saw Mrs Lord, she said: ‘She was happy on Tuesday and we had a few gins with her and the last time I saw her she gave me a hug.’

She said she was ‘upbeat’ and talking about Christmas just days before she disappeared.

Wensum Park currently remains closed to the public. 

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