Nation consumed by mystery of missing mum Nicola Bulley as conflicting theories emerge

Police are adamant the UK mum fell in the river while walking her dog but the lead diver searching the water dismisses the claim.

Mystery continues to shroud the disappearance of mother-of-two Nicola Bulley after police and search teams stand by conflicting accounts over what happened to her nearly two weeks ago.

The 45-year-old vanished "into thin air" almost two weeks ago from a quaint village in England's northwest while walking her dog after dropping her young daughters to school.

Police remain adamant she fell into the river she was walking along in Lancashire's St Michael's. However the lead diver searching the murky waters of the River Wyre has refuted such claims.

"We have scanned a huge area... and there is nothing there," diver Peter Faulding told the Daily Mail.

"We have the best sonar you can buy. A body will move after a time, but they searched that area and came up with nothing – that is what is weird here. We are baffled.”

Nicola Bulley vanished on January 27, with no trace of her since. Source: PA via Yahoo UK
Nicola Bulley vanished on January 27, with no trace of her since. Source: PA via Yahoo UK

He said when someone drowns they are normally found within five to 10 metres of where they went down, even a few days after their death.

"If Nicola was in that river I would have found her - I guarantee you that."

Faulding's remarks have clearly irritated investigators who hit back saying he is only involved in a limited section of the search for Bulley.

A search team scour the river close to the bench where Bulley's mobile phone was found. Source: Getty
A search team scour the river close to the bench where Bulley's mobile phone was found. Source: Getty

“Clearly Mr Faulding isn’t included within all the investigation detail, any more than the members of the public are, that I’m briefing through these sorts of press conferences," Superintendent Sally Riley told reporters.

She stressed the search in the river is "particularly complex" due to river being tidal. Police previously said they do not believe her disappearance to be suspicious. On Tuesday, Supt Riley said “every single” potential suspicion or criminal suggestion raised have so far been discounted by police.

What is known about Nicola Bulley's disappearance

Nicola Bulley's disappearance has gripped the UK, with every detail shared by police of her final moments heavily scrutinised by the public. Bulley was last seen walking her dog on January 27.

She was seen by a fellow dog walker at 8.50am in a field along the river path after she'd taken her daughters, aged 6 and 9, to school.

Minutes later, the mortgage adviser sent an email to her boss and just after 9am she logged on to a Microsoft Teams work call. Ten minutes later another dog walker spotted Bulley along the river at an adjacent field.

At 9.30am, her work call ended however she remained logged in. Five minutes later, Bulley's phone and dog were found at a bench next to the river by another dog walker. Bulley's dog was described as calm and not wet – signs Faulding believes suggests Bulley did not enter the river.

Nicola Bulley's final moments as detailed by witnesses and police. Source: PA via Yahoo UK
Nicola Bulley's final moments as detailed by witnesses and police. Source: PA via Yahoo UK

What next for the investigation?

Faulding ended his involvement in the search on Wednesday saying he has done all he can. However police dive teams will continue in the river, focusing on a 16km stretch downstream leading into the sea.

On February 3, Supt Riley said investigators had eliminated "any trace so far of Nicola having left the riverside". Yet a friend has questioned the theory she went into the river, stating she is "an incredibly strong swimmer." Bulley's sister also suggested there is "no evidence" to support the theory.

And while police's main theory revolves around the river, they have refused to rule out other theories completely.

Police admitted on Wednesday it was still a "possibility' Bulley left the area via a route not covered by cameras, The Sun reported.

Supt Riley asked anyone with dascham near that exit to come forward, or anyone was nearby on January 27 to come forward.

“We have already done a lot of work around this. But every piece of footage helps us build up a picture of movements on that morning," police said in a statement.

A group of officers will now focus on that particular path, the BBC reported.

Screen grab taken from PA Video of the partner of missing mother-of-two Nicola Bulley, Paul Ansell, (2nd from right) visiting the River Wyre in St Michael's on Wyre, Lancashire. Ms Bulley, 45, was last seen on the morning of Friday January 27, when she was spotted walking her dog on a footpath by the river. Picture date: Wednesday February 8, 2023. (Photo by PA Video/PA Images via Getty Images)
Nicola Bulley's husband Paul Ansell (second right) at the scene on where she disappeared on Wednesday. Source: Getty

Members of public 'taking selfies' at search site

The search in St Michael's has been aided by members of the public, however police have since warned against those who may be hampering investigations, including by trespassing on property near the river.

A friend of Bulley said some were visiting the site with the goal of creating social media posts and taking selfies.

"We have noticed it does feel like some people have come to maybe use it as more like a tourist spot, to do their own personal social media things," Heather Gibbons said.

It comes as Bulley's devastated husband visited the site on Wednesday. He previously said in a statement his young family are searching for answers "we all so badly need". He said his family have been living in a "perpetual hell".

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