Nicola Bulley’s family have said they are “heartbroken” after a body was found during the search for the missing mum. A body was discovered in the River Wyre today, around a mile from where the 45-year-old was last seen with her dog Willow on the morning of January 27. Formal identification has not yet taken place but Lancashire Police has notified the mum-of-two’s family of the development.
Daily Record reports that this evening Sky News correspondent Inzamam Rashid said he had been in contact with Ms Bulley’s relatives via text messages.
He said: “They are incredibly heartbroken by this significant development from Lancashire Police.”
In a statement the 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 discovery comes after police closed off roads around a mile from where Ms Bulley disappeared.
A police helicopter and a drone were spotted flying overhead while divers were seen in the River Wyre.
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Mr Ansell said the support from the community had given the family “a great amount of comfort”.
He said that either he or his partner Ms Bulley, also known as Nikki, would regularly drop their two daughters, aged six and nine, at their school, before taking their Springer spaniel for a walk along the river nearby. But on the morning of January 27 he 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.”
Ms Bulley, a mortgage adviser, was seen by a member of the public before her family were alerted to her disappearance.
Her dog 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”.
There was a massive search operation in the days after Ms Bulley disappeared with divers scouring the River Wyre.
Officers also visited an abandoned house in their search for Ms Bulley, who was originally from Essex, but moved with her family to Lancashire around 25 years ago.
Lancashire Police came under fire after making Ms Bulley’s struggles with alcohol and peri-menopause public three weeks after she vanished.
In a press conference on Wednesday, they revealed the mother-of-two was classed as a “high-risk” missing person immediately after her partner Paul Ansell reported her disappearance, “based on a number of specific vulnerabilities”.
They later added in a statement that Ms Bulley, from Inskip in Lancashire, had stopped taking her HRT medication.
A public backlash and interventions from both the Government and shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper followed, with Lancashire Police confirming a date had been set for an internal review into the investigation.