Police investigating the disappearance of missing mother-of-two Nicola Bulley say they believe she fell into the River Wyre while walking her dog.
The force said its “main working hypothesis” is that the 45-year-old fell into the river and that “this is not suspicious but a tragic case of a missing person”. They believe this happened between 9.10am and 9.20am on Friday 27 January - a period during which they cannot account for her movements.
Lancashire Police Superintendent Sally Riley told a press conference in the village of St Michael’s on Wyre that the last confirmed sighting of Ms Bulley took place at 9.10am that day, where she was seen on Upper Field walking her dog, Willow. By 9.20am, police believe her phone was on a bench by the river, while still connected to a work conference call, which ended 10 minutes later. Ms Riley said: “We only have a 10-minute window in which we cannot account for Nicola’s movements.”
Superintendent Riley issued a list of clothing and accessories police are searching for in connection with Ms Bulley, telling the press conference: “I do have an update on the clothing that Nicola was last seen wearing, and this is something that the public who live in the area, or who walk their dogs on the river path near to St Michael’s or downstream of St Michael’s towards Morecambe Bay, can look out for.
“They are an ankle-length black quilted gilet jacket, a black Engelbert Strauss waist-length coat which was worn underneath the gilet, tight-fitting black jeans, long green walking socks tucked into her jeans, ankle-length green Next wellies, a necklace and a pale blue Fitbit.
“It’s really important that the public pay heed to those very specific clothing descriptions please, because factual sightings of those items would be very useful to us.”
She added: “I would also appeal to the public to keep themselves safe in this inquiry. People going out at night in the darkness could fall into the river and face other hazards. Likewise, if they go out in boats on the river, please only do so if you’ve got experience in that.”
Ms Bulley’s family has urged anyone with information to come forward. Her heartbroken sister, Louise Cunningham, told Sky News: “Something has got to have been missed. Somebody must know something. People don’t just vanish into thin air.” She added that it feels like she is “stuck in a nightmare.”
Meanwhile, Ernest and Dot Bulley, Ms Bulley’s parents, spoke of how there are “two young children waiting for their mummy to come back” - and spoke of the pain of hearing their grandchildren “sobbing” after being told “mummy is lost”.
Paul Ansell, Ms Bulley’s partner, has said he is trying to stay strong for their daughters. He told broadcasters near the scene of Ms Bulley’s sudden disappearance: “My whole focus is my two girls, just staying as strong as I can for them. I’m scared that if I put focus into anything else it’s going to take my focus off that.”
He also said he had taken comfort from the support of the local community, remarking: “The level of support is out of this world. It gives us a great amount of comfort knowing that that’s going on, we don’t have anything else. We’re never going to lose hope, but it is as though she has vanished into thin air. It’s just insane.”