Lancashire Police find body in River Wyre
A body has been found in the search for Nicola Bulley after a search by police divers less than a mile from her last known location. Ms Bulley, 45, of Inskip in Lancashire, was last seen 23 days ago, at about 9.15am on Friday, January 27, after setting out with her brown spaniel Willow after dropping her daughters, aged six and nine, at school.
The body has not yet been formally identified.
In a statement police said: “This morning, Sunday, 19 February, you may be aware of police activity around the river near to St Michaels. We want to provide you with an update on that activity.
“We were called today at 11:36am to reports of a body in the River Wyre, close to Rawcliffe Road.
“An underwater search team and specialist officers have subsequently attended the scene, entered the water and have sadly recovered a body.
“No formal identification has yet been carried out, so we are unable to say whether this is Nicola Bulley at this time.
Nicola went missing while on a dog walk near her home
Crime Scene Investigation van on the scene today
“Procedures to identify the body are ongoing. We are currently treating the death as unexplained.
“Nicola’s family have been informed of developments and our thoughts are with them at this most difficult of times. We ask that their privacy is respected.”
The heartbreaking discovery comes after police closed off roads around a mile from where Ms Bulley disappeared.
A police helicopter and a drone were spotted flying overhead while divers were seen in the River Wyre. Soon after a Crime Scene Investigators van arrived on the scene and a forensics tent was erected.
Earlier, at about 1pm, two walkers contacted the police to report what they believed was a body in the water.
READ MORE: Divers enter River Wyre after police ‘receive tip-off’ in search for missing Nicola Bulley
This morning, Sunday, February 19, you may be aware of police activity around the river near St Michaels. We want to provide you with an update on that activity.
We were called today at 11:36am to reports of a body in the River Wyre, close to Rawcliffe Road. pic.twitter.com/zTtloX69hJ
— Lancashire Police (@LancsPolice) February 19, 2023
Divers spotted entering the river in search of missing Nicola Bulley
Earlier in the investigation Lancashire Police had said they did not believe any crime was committed and were treating the incident as a missing person inquiry.
It was also revealed that she had been dialed into a work conference at the time of her disappearance, with a passerby finding her phone.
Paul Ansell, Ms Bulley’s partner, said the family had been living in “perpetual hell” after his girlfriend’s disappearance.
He said on the seventh day of the search: “We’re never, ever going to lose hope, of course we’re not, but it is as though she has vanished into thin air. It’s just insane.”
Mr Ansell said the support from the community had given the family “a great amount of comfort”.
Nicola Bulley case laid bare – everything police shared at briefing [INSIGHT]
Nicola Bulley ‘moved towards bench’ just before vanishing [COMMENT]
Nicola Bulley was ‘high-risk’ due to ‘a number of vulnerabilities’ [PICTURES]
Nicola Bulley: A helicopter was spotted over the site earlier
The bench where the police believed Nicola Bulley was sat
Mr Ansell said he or Ms Bulley, also known as Nikki, would regularly drop the children off, aged six and nine, at the local primary school, before taking their springer spaniel for a walk along the river nearby.
But after dropping the children off at school on Friday morning he then got a call alerting him something was amiss.
Mr Ansell said: “I rang the police, I got a call from the school regarding someone who had found Willow and Nikki’s phone and the dog lead and harness on the bench. We take the kids to school and take the dog down there, either myself or Nikki, nearly every day.”
Ms Bulley’s friend, Emma White, had told the BBC: “Seven days on, such a tough milestone today for all the family and friends.”
The alarm was raised when her dog, Willow, was found alone
Timeline from the morning of Nicola’s disappearance, according to the police
8.43am – Bulley walked along a path by the River Wyre after dropping her children off at school.
Around 8:50am – Someone who knows Bulley stopped with their dog to say hello as Nicola was walking around the lower field with her dog.
8.53am – Nicola sent an email to her boss.
9.01am – She logged into a Teams call.
Around 9.10am – Another witness spots Nicola with her dog.
9.30am – The Teams call ended but she remained online.
Around 9.35am – Nicola’s mobile phone and dog were found by another dog walker by the river.
The police scoured the area in search of the missing mum
Ms Bulley, a mortgage adviser, was seen by a member of the public before her family was alerted to her disappearance.
Willow was found loose from her lead and harness an hour later by a member of the public.
A member of the public recognized Willow and raised the alarm with the police at 10.30am.
A potential witness, a dog walker, who was traced following a police appeal on Thursday, said she had spoken to officers and “doesn’t know anything”.
Willow was found by another walker who alerted the police
Superintendent Sally Riley told the Mirror that the police found Nicola’s phone still “active” on the bench and began searching for her immediately.
She added: “It was on a meeting call, and that was still live it was connected to the conference call and that hadn’t been terminated.”
On Thursday, members of Ms Bulley’s distraught family issued an emotional appeal.
Her tearful father Ernie Bulley said Ms Bulley’s young daughters still believed it was “only a matter of time” before their mother comes home.
He told Sky: “There are two young children there waiting for their mummy to come back and we want her back obviously too, but if Nicola is out there, if she’s watching this, then all we’d like to say is ‘come home , contact the police, contact ourselves and we just want you back’.”
A search team on the River Wyre
Teams of people searched the area in the days after Ms Bulley disappeared with divers scouring the River Wyre.
An abandoned house was also visited by officers in the search for Ms Bulley, who was originally from Essex, but moved with her family to Lancashire around 25 years ago.
Lancashire Police came under fire after making Ms Bulley’s struggles with alcohol and peri-menopause public three weeks after she vanished.
In a press conference on Wednesday, they revealed the mother-of-two was classified as a “high-risk” missing person immediately after her partner Paul Ansell reported her disappearance, “based on a number of specific vulnerabilities”.
They later added in a statement that Ms Bulley, from Inskip in Lancashire, had stopped taking her HRT medication.
A public backlash and interventions from both the Government and shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper followed, with Lancashire Police confirming a date had been set for an internal review into the investigation.