A witness said he saw two men acting suspiciously close to where Nicola Bulley went missing as she walked her dog, it has been claimed.
Police are said to have taken further CCTV footage from a garage close to the spot the mum-of-two was last seen in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire.
As the search for Ms Bulley enters the 17th day, a witness is believed to have come forward after seeing the two men outside of a nearby church.
Allegedly the same person told police he saw one of the men close to Ms Bulley’s usual route on the morning she vanished.
Police this weekend announced an investigation into reports of a ‘shabby’ red van seen near where she went missing.
It was seen close to Nicola’s walking route on the morning she disappeared, parked in a lane near the school where she dropped her two daughters before walking her dog by the river.
The vehicle was described by a witness as being a faded red-coloured high-sided Renault or Transit.
Nicola, 45, went missing while walking her dog Willow more than two weeks ago in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancs.
A garage worker, told The Sun: ‘Two smartly dressed officers came in following up, a man and a woman.
‘They wanted the CCTV from the day before Nicola vanished and to take statements of any activity we had seen from that day.
‘These officers were different to the ones in uniform, they seemed very assertive.’
The employee said of the church sighting: ‘I know who the witness is and he has already called police about what he saw.
‘But he said he wanted to make sure they were chasing this up so I asked the officers about it and they said they were following it up.’
He added: ‘He saw what he saw and wanted to make sure the police followed it up.
‘Whether them collecting the CCTV from the same day is connected, I don’t know.’
After more than two weeks looking for the mum, Ms Bulley’s partner, Paul Ansell, yesterday suggested the phone and dog harness found on the bench where Nicola Bulley vanished could be a ‘decoy’.
The mum-of-two disappeared while walking her springer spaniel dog Willow alongside the River Wyre in St Michael’s on Wyre on January 27.
Speaking to 5 News presenter Dan Walker, Mr Ansell said he wants to keep ‘all options open’ about her disappearance.
He sat down with Dan Walker to explain the couple’s ‘totally normal’ morning routine on the day she went missing.
Timeline of events in the case of missing mother-of-two Nicola Bulley
– January 27
The 45-year-old dropped her daughters, aged six and nine, off at school in the morning before walking her dog, Willow, in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire.
Lancashire Police have said the mortgage adviser, from nearby Inskip, had been walking along a path beside the River Wyre just before 9am.
She was seen by a dog walker who knew her at around 8.50am, and their pets interacted briefly before they parted ways, according to the force.
At 8.53am, Ms Bulley sent an email to her boss, before logging on to a Microsoft Teams call at 9.01am.
She was seen by a second witness at 9.10am, the last known sighting.
By 9.30am, Ms Bulley’s Teams call had ended, but her phone stayed connected to the call.
Approximately five minutes later, another dog walker found her phone on a bench beside the river, with Willow darting between the two.
At 10.50am, Ms Bulley’s family and the school attended by her children were told about her disappearance.
Lancashire Constabulary launched an investigation into Ms Bulley’s whereabouts on the same day and appealed for witnesses to contact them.
– January 28
Lancashire Constabulary deployed drones, helicopters and police search dogs as part of the major missing person operation.
They were assisted by Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, as well as Bowland Pennine mountain rescue team and the North West underwater search team.
– January 29
Local residents held a meeting at the village hall to organise a search for Ms Bulley at 10.30am on Sunday, according to reports from The Mirror, and around 100 people joined the search.
Police urged volunteers to exercise caution, describing the river and its banks as ‘extremely dangerous’ and saying that activity in these areas presented ‘a genuine risk to the public’.
– January 30
Superintendent Sally Riley from Lancashire Constabulary said police were ‘keeping a really open mind about what could have happened’, and that they were not treating Ms Bulley’s disappearance as suspicious.
– January 31
Lancashire Constabulary spoke with a potential witness, a man who had been walking a small white fluffy dog near the River Wyre at the time of Ms Bulley’s disappearance.
Her family released a statement saying they had been ‘overwhelmed by the support’ in their community, and that her daughters were ‘desperate to have their mummy back home safe’.
– February 1
Ms Bulley’s parents, Ernest and Dot Bulley, spoke to The Mirror about the ‘horror’ they faced over the possibility of never seeing her again.
Her father told the newspaper: ‘We just dread to think we will never see her again, if the worst came to the worst and she was never found, how will we deal with that for the rest of our lives.’
– February 2
Lancashire Constabulary spoke with a second witness who they had identified with the help of the public using CCTV but they told police they did not have any further information to aid their inquiry.
Officers from the North West Police Underwater and Marine support unit searched the area close to where Ms Bulley’s mobile phone was found, while police divers scoured the River Wyre.
Meanwhile, Ms Bulley’s family appealed to the public for help tracing her.
Speaking with Sky News, her sister Louise Cunningham said: ‘There has got to be somebody who knows something and all we are asking is, no matter how small or big, if there is anything you remember that doesn’t seem right, then please reach out to the police.
‘Get in touch and get my sister back.’
Ms Bulley’s father said his family hoped their interview would ‘spark a light’ that would lead to her being found.
– February 3
Lancashire Police said they were working on the hypothesis that Ms Bulley may have fallen into the River Wyre.
Ms Riley urged against speculation, but said it was ‘possible’ that an ‘issue’ with Ms Bulley’s dog may have led her to the water’s edge.
She urged the public to look out for items of clothing Ms Bulley was last seen wearing, and gave an extensive list.
Ms Bulley’s friends also shared heartfelt appeals via television interviews, including Emma White, who told the BBC that Ms Bulley’s daughters were continually asking where she was.
– February 4
Ms Bulley’s friend, Emma White, casts doubt on the police theory that she fell into a river, telling Sky News it was based on ‘limited information’.
She said: ‘When we are talking about a life we can’t base it on a hypothesis, surely we need this factual evidence.
‘That’s what the family and all of us are holding on to, that we are sadly no further on than last Friday.’
He and Nicola had sat down and watched television before going to bed separately, he explained.
Dan asked if she had mentioned any ‘struggle’ or if ‘anything was wrong’, to which Paul responded no.
Family and friends of Nicola have questioned the police theory that she probably fell into the water while walking her dog, after dropping her children off at school on January 27.
And the underwater search expert called in to help look for her said the case is a ‘complete mystery’ after failing to find any sign of her.
The focus of the search for the missing mum Bulley has now extended further downstream, near to where the River Wyre reaches the Irish Sea at Morecambe Bay.
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