Missing mum Nicola Bulley sent friend text message 'minutes before she vanished'

A mum-of-two who disappeared while walking her dog texted a friend minutes before the last known sighting of her, it has been claimed.

Nicola Bully, 45, was reported missing last Friday after her springer spaniel Willow was found wandering along the river Wyre near her home in the village of St Michaels, Lancashire.

She had been seen walking the dog in a nearby field and her phone was found on a bench by the river still logged into a work conference call, along with Willow’s harness and lead.

A friend who lives in the village, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Mirror Nicola had messaged another friend while she was believed to be on her walk.

The friend said: ‘She booked a playdate, 8.57, she sent a text message to a friend whose mortgage she had just recently signed off on to arrange for the girls to go for tea this week.’

Nicola is believed to have logged into her conference call at 9.01am, and was seen walking Willow on a field around ten minutes later.

At 9.30am the call ended but Nicola’s phone remained logged on, and it was found on the bench around five minutes later.

The missing persons report was made at 10.15am.

Nicola’s friend believes her last text shows she had no intention of disappearing on purpose.

She added: ‘You wouldn’t have done that if you were going to get up and go missing.’

The text and its contents were said to have been revealed when residents of St Michaels met at around 10.30am to carry out an initial mass search.

A team of 25 trained volunteers led by mountain rescue services later combed the river bank, surrounding woodland and the property surrounding an abandoned house.

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The days since have seen police repeatedly deploy sniffer dogs, drones, specialist divers and a helicopter.

Detectives said they are following numerous leads but do not believe Nicola was attacked.

Her partner, Paul Ansell, told Sky News: ’It seems absolutely impossible. It’s like a dream, I can’t get my head around it.

‘Every single scenario comes to a brick wall.

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‘I don’t really have anything to say other than what the family said yesterday, my focus is my two girls and staying as strong as I can for them.

‘I’m scared that if I put any focus into anything else it’s going to take my focus off that. I’ve got to be careful.’

Paul added that he was ‘incredibly thankful’ for the help offered by friends and locals.

Nicola’s sister, Louise Cunningham, previously told reporters: ‘Something has got to have been missed.

‘Somebody must know something. People don’t just vanish into thin air.’

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