Police are searching for missing mother Nicola Bulley found a body less than a mile from where she disappeared 23 days ago.
Nicola, 45, was last seen around 9.15am on January 27 at St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire.
Her disappearance sparked a mystery after her cell phone was found on a bench still connected to a conference call.
Nicolas Springer Spaniel Willow was also found – but there was still no trace of the mother of two.
- Read more about Nicolas disappearance here
Police searching for Nicola today confirmed a body was found less than a mile from where she was last seen.
They said no formal identification was made, so they can’t say if the remains belong to the mother-of-two.
The force said in a statement: “We were called at 11:36am today with reports of a body in the River Wyre near Rawcliffe Road.
“An underwater search team and specialized officers subsequently joined the scene, entered the water and unfortunately recovered a body.
“No formal identification has yet been carried out, so we cannot say at this time if this is Nicola Bulley.
“Procedures to identify the body are ongoing. We are currently treating the death as unexplained.
“Nicola’s family have been informed of the developments and our thoughts are with them at this most difficult time. We ask that their privacy be respected.”
Officers today closed off an area less than a mile from where Nicola was last seen after two dog walkers gave a lead.
Divers were seen entering the water after two police cars sped to the scene this morning.
A police helicopter circled overhead as a man and woman pointed to where a new search was being launched.
The search area extends along Rawcliffe Road and nearby footpaths.
The tragic discovery comes after police confirmed Nicola was treated as a high-risk missing person in her disappearance.
The force revealed Nicola had “vulnerabilities” at the time of her disappearance, which were brought to their attention by partner Paul Ansell and her family.
These included “significant problems with alcohol” in the past caused by her “ongoing struggles with menopause.”
Nicolas’ fights had resurfaced in recent months, police confirmed.
A statement added: “This caused some real challenges for Paul and the family.
“As a result of these issues, an emergency vehicle manned by both police and health professionals attended a welfare concern report at Nicola’s home address on January 10.
“No one has been arrested in connection with this incident, but it is being investigated.”
Officials have defended their decision to release the personal details after they were slammed by MPs and former police officers.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman has ordered the force to explain why the details emerged and police have now been referred to the independent Bureau of Police Conduct.
They released a statement from Nicola’s family urging the public to “focus on finding her.”
It said: “The police know the truth about Nikki and now the public needs to focus on finding her.
“Due to perimenopause, Nikki suffered from significant side effects such as brain fog, restless sleep and took HRT to help but this gave her severe headaches which led Nikki to stop HRT thinking it might have helped her but only ended cause of this crisis.”
The family also reached out directly to Nicola in the heartbreaking statement.
They said: “Nikki, we hope you’re reading this and knowing that we love you so much and want to cuddle your girls.
“We all need you home.”
Detective Superintendent Rebecca Smith reiterated this week that the police’s “main working hypothesis” is that she fell in the river.
But she revealed two other theories for her disappearance – Nicolas leaving the area voluntarily and third party involvement.
Officers had shifted their search for the mother to the coast 20 miles away after believing Nicola could have been taken to sea.
Last Friday, Nicolas partner Paul Ansell told Channel 5’s Dan Walker that “something happened that day” as people just “vanish”.
He also spoke of his agony over her disappearance two weeks after she was last seen.
Chronicle of Nicolas disappearance
8:26 a.m. – Nicola leaves her home address with her children
8:40 am – The mother takes the children to school and has a brief chat with another parent.
8.43am – Nicola walked along the path by the River Wyre towards the Tor/Bank in the lower field after taking her children to school
8:47 a.m. (approximately) – A dog walker – someone who knows Nicola – spotted her walking her dog in the lower field. Their two dogs interacted briefly before the witness left the field across the river path
8:53 am – She emailed her boss
8.59am – Nicola sent a message to a friend
9:01 am – She logged into a Teams call
9.10am (approximately) – A witness – someone who knows Nicola – saw her walking her dog Willow in the upper field. Work is being done today to determine exactly what time that was.
9.20- Your phone was back in the bank area
9:30 am – The Teams call ended but Nicola stayed logged on
9:33 a.m. (Approx.) – Nicolas Handy and Willow were found by another dog walker on a bank by the river.
Speaking on “Vanished: What Happened to Nicola Bulley?” Paul said, “It just doesn’t feel real. I feel like I’m on the Truman show.
“I really think I’m going to wake up any minute… how are we anyway? We are good people.”
Paul also said he feels “anger, loads of frustration, confusion, disbelief, surrealism” as the family goes through “unprecedented hell.”
Officials previously released a timeline of the missing mother’s final movements before she disappeared.
Nicola started her walk along the towpath to the River Wyre at 8.43am after dropping her two children off at school.
Police say about seven minutes later, a dog walker who knows Nicola saw her running in the lower field with her springer spaniel, Willow.
The witness said her two dogs interacted briefly before she left Nicola via the river path.
At 8:53 am, the mother emailed her boss at Exclusively Mortgages.
She then logged on to a Teams call at 9:01 am and was seen in the upper field with Willow about nine minutes later.
Police say the work call ended at 9.30am but Nicola remained logged on.
At around 9:35 a.m., the cell phone and Willow were found on a bench by the river, but Nicola was nowhere to be seen.
To find the mother of two, an extensive search was launched involving police, firefighters, mountain rescue, underwater teams and the local community.
Officers searched wooded areas, ditches, water’s edge and the site of an abandoned house.
A special search was also launched by diving expert Peter Faulding, who used £50,000 worth of sonar equipment to comb the water.
He later retired from the hunt, saying he didn’t think Nicola was in the flow as she could “stand up” if she fell in.
Nicolas partner Paul and sister Louise Cunningham also expressed their doubts about the police hypothesis.
Following the tragic find today, Peter tweeted: “Our thoughts are with Nicolas family and friends at this difficult time. #nicolabulley”
https://www.the-sun.com/news/7436636/police-find-body-search-nicola-bulley-missing/ Police searching for missing Nicola Bulley, 45, find a body less than a mile from where the mother-of-two disappeared 23 days ago