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Police believe missing mother Nicola Bulley ‘fell into river’

Nicola Bulley went missing while walking her dog in St Michael’s on Wyre.

A massive search for Ms Bulley is still ongoing, but no trace of her has been found.

Police investigating the disappearance of Nicola Bulley, a mother of two, believe she drowned in a river.

The 45-year-old was last seen on a dog walk near the River Wyre in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire, a week ago.

Lancashire Police stated that the “main working hypothesis” was that she fell into the River Wyre, and that this was a “tragic case of a missing person” rather than a “suspicious” case.

Ms Bulley, a mortgage adviser from Inskip, Lancashire, went missing on 27 January while walking her dog after dropping off her two daughters, ages six and nine, at school.

Ms Bulley’s last confirmed sighting was at just after 9am when she was seen on the upper field, according to Supt Sally Riley.

Willow, her spaniel, was discovered running loose off Garstang Road about 25 minutes after she was last seen by another dog walker, alerting officers to her disappearance.

Police believe her phone was on a bench at 9.20am while she was connected to a work Teams meeting, which ended 10 minutes later.

Detectives believe Ms Bulley went missing during that 10-minute period.

According to Supt Riley, detectives were able to “eliminate any trace of Nicola having left the riverside” after reviewing dashcam, CCTV, and doorbell footage.

She stated that this was “extremely important” to the investigation.

“We believe Nicola was in the riverside area and stayed in the riverside area,” said Supt Riley.

“We remain open to any inquiries that may lead us to doubt that, but at this time, we believe she was by the river.”

Supt Sally Riley says police are not investigating Nicola Bulley’s disappearance.

The coastguard, mountain rescue, and fire service have all joined the police in their ongoing search of the river and nearby footpaths.

“Our main working hypothesis is therefore that Nicola has sadly fallen into the river, that there is no third party or criminal involvement, and that this is not a suspicious case of a missing person,” Supt Riley said.

“This is especially important because speculation can be extremely upsetting for the family and Nicola’s children.”

Ms Bulley’s disappearance had “understandably caused a huge amount of concern and upset in the local community, as well as being an absolutely awful time for her family,” according to Supt Riley.

Her partner Paul Ansell, 44, said earlier that the family had been living in “perpetual hell”.

“We’re never going to give up hope,” he said.

“However, she appears to have vanished into thin air right now. It’s completely insane.”

Ms Bulley’s friend Emma White described her as “the most beautiful person” and “the kindest soul – she’s thoughtful, she’s caring”.

“And then you combine her and Paul, a little bit of magic, and they’ve created these two beautiful humans who just want to know where their mummy is,” she explained.

“They are the most bonded family. Those poor girls asking, ‘where is mummy, how is mummy?'”

“She puts her phone down to deal with the dog for a moment, and Nicola may have fallen in,” she explained.

“We assume the dog did not enter the river, but we have no idea why Nicola might have if she did.”

Ms Riley stated that the dog was dry and that Ms Bulley was capable of swimming.

Ms Bulley has lived in Lancashire for 25 years, but she is originally from Essex, near Chelmsford, and speaks with a southern accent.

She was last seen wearing an ankle-length black quilted gilet jacket, a waist-length black Engelbert Strauss coat worn underneath the gilet, and tight-fitting black jeans.

She was also wearing tucked-in long green walking socks, ankle-length green Next wellies, a necklace, and a pale blue Fitbit.

Supt Riley urged the public to “pay attention to those very specific clothing descriptions” and to “keep themselves safe” in the search for Ms Bulley.

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