Nicola Bulley cops confirm body found in river is missing mum more than 3 weeks after she vanished while walking her dog | The Sun
POLICE have tonight confirmed the body found less than a mile from where Nicola Bulley vanished is the missing mum.
In a press conference this evening, cops shared the tragic update that the body found yesterday was Nicola's.
The mum-of-two, 45, was last seen in St Michael's on Wyre, Lancashire, at around 9.15am on January 27.
Her disappearance sparked a mystery after her mobile was found on a bench still connected to a work conference call.
Nicola's pet springer spaniel Willow was also found – but there was still no trace of the mum-of-two.
Police searching for Nicola yesterday confirmed a body had been found less than a mile from where she was last seen more than three weeks ago.
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And Lancashire Police's Assistant Chief Constable Peter Lawson today confirmed in a press conference that the body belongs to the mum-of-two.
He said: "Sadly, we are now able to confirm that yesterday we recovered Nicola Bulley from the River Wyre.
"Nicola’s family have been informed and are of course devastated. Our thoughts are with them at this time as well as with all her loved ones and the wider community.
"We recognise the huge impact that Nicola’s disappearance has had on her family and friends, but also on the people of St Michael’s.
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"We would like to thank all of those who have helped during what has been a hugely complex and highly emotional investigation.
"Today’s development is not the outcome any of us would have wanted, but we hope that it can at least start to provide some answers for Nicola’s loved ones, who remain foremost in our thoughts.
"The case is now being handled by HM Coroner."
It comes as…
- Nicola’s family said that they’ll never be able to “comprehend what Nikki went through” or “forget” the tragedy
- A ‘psychic’ claimed that he found the body during the search
- The Home Secretary was reported to be “not satisfied” over cop’s explanation of why they released information on Nicola’s “vulnerabilities”
- Dive expert Peter Faulding said “I did my best” in the search for the mum-of-two
- An ex-cop said that the body may have been “weighed down” before it was found
Detective Chief Superintendent Pauline Stables then read out a heartbreaking statement from Nicola's family, saying their "worst fears had been confirmed today".
She read: "We will never be able to comprehend what Nikki had gone through in her last moments and that will never leave us.
"We will never forget Nikki, how could we, she was the centre of our world, she was the one who made our lives so special and nothing will cast a shadow over that.
"Our girls will get the support they need from the people who love them the most."
They added: "Our hearts truly break for others who have missing loved ones. Keep that hope alive.
"Finally, Nikki, you are no longer a missing person, you have been found, we can let you rest now.
"We love you, always have and always will, we'll take it from here."
In their statement, Nicola’s family criticised press coverage of the search for the mum-of-two and hit out at harmful social media speculation.
They specifically mentioned two broadcasters who tried to contact them today, after they had "expressly asked for privacy".
The case has attracted widespread interest since tragic Nicola's disappearance and amateur sleuths have flooded social media with wild theories during the three-week hunt for the mum.
'IT WAS A BODY'
Just hours prior to the press conference police had said they needed more time to identify the body.
A statement released yesterday said her death is being treated as unexplained.
Officers closed off an area less than a mile from where Nicola was last seen after a tip-off from two dog walkers.
Divers were seen entering the water after two police cars were raced to the scene yesterday morning.
The search area spanned along Rawcliffe Road as well as nearby footpaths.
A police helicopter circled above as a man and woman were seen pointing to the spot where a new search was launched.
The horrified witness' first words to the cops were revealed.
The man, who appeared pale, could be seen pointing to the area along the bank.
He can then be heard saying: “It was a body. It is down there.
"It was a body of a woman. There is definitely a body down there.”
- Read more on Nicola's disappearance here
The tragic discovery comes after police confirmed Nicola was treated as a high-risk missing person when she disappeared.
The force revealed Nicola had "vulnerabilities" at the time she went missing they were made aware of by partner Paul Ansell and her family.
These included "significant issues with alcohol" in the past that were brought on by her "ongoing struggles with the menopause".
Nicola's struggles had resurfaced over recent months, police confirmed.
A statement added: "This caused some real challenges for Paul and the family.
"As a result of those issues, a response car staffed by both police and health professionals attended a report of concern for welfare at Nicola’s home address on January 10th.
"No one has been arrested in relation to this incident, but it is being investigated."
'CAUSING A CRISIS'
Officers have defended their decision to release the personal information after being slammed by MPs and former cops.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman has ordered the force to explain why the details were revealed and police have now referred themselves to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.
They released a statement from Nicola's family begging for the public to "focus on finding her".
It read: "The police know the truth about Nikki and now the public need to focus on finding her.
"Due to the peri menopause Nikki suffered with significant side effects such as brain fog, restless sleep and was taking HRT to help but this was giving her intense headaches which caused Nikki to stop taking the HRT thinking that may have helped her but only ended up causing this crisis."
Detective Superintendent Rebecca Smith reiterated this week that the police's "main working hypothesis" was that she fell in the river.
But she revealed two other theories for her disappearance – Nicola leaving the area voluntarily and third party involvement.
Officers had moved their search for the mum 20 miles away to the coast after believing Nicola could have been carried out to sea.
Last Friday, Nicola's partner Paul Ansell told Channel 5's Dan Walker that "something happened that day" as people do just "vanish into thin air".
He also spoke of his torment at her disappearance two weeks after she was last seen.
Timeline of Nicola’s disappearance
8.26am- Nicola leaves her home address with her children
8.40am- The mum drops the children off at school and has a brief conversation with another parent.
8.43am – Nicola walked along the path by the River Wyre towards the gate/bench into the lower field, having dropped her children off at school
8:47am (approximately) – A dog-walker – somebody who knows Nicola – saw her walking around the lower field with her dog. Their two dogs interacted briefly before the witness left the field via the river path
8.53am – She sent an email to her boss
8.59 am- Nicola sent message to a friend
9.01am – She logged into a Teams call
9.10am (approximately) – A witness – somebody who knows Nicola – saw her on the upper field walking her dog, Willow. Work is ongoing today to establish exactly what time this was.
9.20- Her phone was back in the area of the bench
9.30am – The Teams call ended but Nicola stayed logged on
9.33am (approximately) – Nicola’s mobile phone and Willow were found at a bench by the river by another dog-walker.
On Vanished: What happened to Nicola Bulley?, Paul said: "It just doesn’t feel real. I feel like I’m in the Truman show.
"Like, I honestly believe I’m going to wake up at any moment…how are we even in this? We are good people.”
Paul also said he feels "anger, loads of frustration, confusion, disbelief, surrealism" as the family goes through "unprecedented hell".
Officers previously released a timeline of the missing mum's final movements before she disappeared.
Nicola began her walk along the towpath to the River Wyre at 8.43am after dropping her two children off at school.
Police say around seven minutes later, a dog walker who knows Nicola saw her walking around the lower field with her springer spaniel Willow.
The witness said their two dogs interacted briefly before she left Nicola via the river path.
At 8.53am, the mum sent an email to her boss at Exclusively Mortgages.
She then logged into a Teams call at 9.01am and was seen around nine minutes later on the upper field walking Willow.
Police say at 9.30am, the work call ended but Nicola stayed logged on.
At around 9.35am, the mobile and Willow were found at a bench by the river but there was no sign of Nicola.
An extensive search was launched to find the mum-of-two, involving police, firefighters, mountain rescue, underwater teams and the local community.
Officers scoured wooded areas, ditches, water margins and the grounds of an abandoned house.
A specialist search was also launched by dive expert Peter Faulding, who used £50,000 sonar equipment to scour the water.
He later pulled out of the hunt, saying he did not believe Nicola was in the river as she could have "stood up" if she fell in.
Nicola's partner Paul and sister Louise Cunningham also expressed their doubts at the police hypothesis.
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Speaking after the tragic find today, Peter tweeted: "Our thoughts are with Nicola's family and friends at this difficult time."
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