Lancashire Police find body in River Wyre
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A body has been found in the search for Nicola Bulley who went missing 23 days ago after a search by police divers less than a mile from where her last known location. Ms Bulley, 45, of Inskip in Lancashire, was last seen 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 statment 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.
“Procedures to identify the body are on-going. 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 Nicola 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. A forensics tent was then erected.
That followed two walkers around 1pm today reporting to police they saw what they believed was a body in the water.
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 dialled into a work conference at the time of her disappearance, with a passerby finding her phone.
Paul Ansell, the partner of Nicola, 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”.
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 mum-of-two was seen by a member of the public before her family were 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 recognised Willow and raised the alarm with 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”.
Superintendent Sally Riley told the Mirror that 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.”
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 somebody 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.”
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 also, 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’.”
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.
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