Nicola Bulley graded ‘high risk’ missing person with ‘specific vulnerabilities’

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    Nicola Bulley was immediately graded "a high-risk missing person" with "specific vulnerabilities" as soon as she was reported missing 19 days ago, Lancashire Police has revealed.

    Mortgage broker Ms Bulley has not been seen since disappearing from a field beside the River Wyre in a 10-minute window on the morning of Friday January 27.

    The police, from very early on in the investigation, made clear their leading theory was that Nicola had fallen into the river while walking her dog.

    Despite wholesale searches, no trace of Ms Bulley has been found.

    READ MORE:Nicola Bulley detectives arrest two people over mystery 'malicious' messages

    Lancashire Police's Assistant Chieff Constable Peter Lawson and Detective Supintendent Rebecca Smith gave an update on the "unprecedented" investigation on its 19th day – but stressed there was "no evidence of criminal or third-party involvement".

    The police confirmed the river theory remains their "main hypothesis" because of "specific vulnerabilities in this specific case" that came to light due to "information from Nicola's family".

    Det Supt Smith also went on to slam "TikTok private detectives" for being "a huge distraction" during the investigation.

    After a stained blue glove was recovered from the river bank close to where Nicola was last seen, investigating officers were keen to speak to the media in a bid to combat what they see as "misinformation" being spread around Nicola's disappearance.

    Nicola disappeared while walking her springer spaniel Willow in the village of St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire, after she dropped her two daughters – aged six and nine – at school on January 27.

    The official police theory, from the very beginning of the investigation, was that the 45-year-old mum-of-two had suffered a tragic accident while walking the dog along the banks of the River Wyre and had fallen into the cold, fast-flowing waters.

    • Bench where Nicola Bulley's phone found could be splattered with blood, ex-cop claims

    But after an intensive search of the river produced no results, rival theories began to emerge. Forensic search expert Peter Faulding, who had been brought in with specialised sonar equipment to scan the river bottom, told reported that he was "baffled" that Nicola couldn't be found.

    He has since turned his search to the area along the river bank, searching for what he calls "deposition" sites where a body might have been concealed.

    • Nicola Bulley’s partner in desperate plea as 'two little girls miss their mummy'

    Peter told LBC: "I don’t think she fell in the water. That's just my opinion with all the drownings I've dealt with over the years.

    The forensic expert told reporters that he had a feeling in his “gut” that the missing mum may have not simply fallen into the river.

    He said that Nicola's phone, left on a bench and still connected to a work conference call, could have been a deliberate “decoy”.

    • Nicola Bulley's heartbroken partner pens devastating note for missing mum-of-two

    And an ex-cop claims that Lancashire Police should have done more to secure the area around the bench where Nicola's phone was found, saying it could have been splattered with blood.

    Martyn Underhill, a former Sussex Police Force detective who was a senior officer in the Sarah Payne murder investigation, thinks that local cops may have overlooked vital evidence from the bench.

    “If Nicola had been attacked there could be blood spatterings on it,” he pointed out.

    • Cold case cop explains why Nicola Bulley 'is in river' based on three key factors

    The fact that the bench still remains in place, and has become a place of pilgrimage for well-wishers and amateur detectives, is “questionable to put it bluntly,” Martyn added.

    Martyn's words were echoed by former Met Police detective Simon Harding, who wrote in the Sunday Times: "You would expect the area where Nicola was last seen to be cordoned off… to stop people descending on it as a tasteless tourist spot and trampling the area — losing any potential evidence”.

    He added: “If every possible route in and out of that area is not covered by CCTV — as is likely in the countryside — you simply cannot be sure that someone else is not involved”.

    • Nicola Bulley's friend urges cops to search 'abandoned house and outbuilding' near river

    In a previous police press conference Superintendent Salley Riley Nicola could have left the river bank area via the Garstang Lane exit, alone or with someone else.

    Acknowledging that there was no CCTV overlooking that area, she said: "That is a possibility but that’s why we appeal for drivers to come forward to try and close off that avenue to at least explain and negate any sightings on that lane"

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