Missing dog walker Nicola Bulley 'fell into river', police believe
Police investigating the disappearance of mother-of-two Nicola Bulley say their "main working hypothesis" is that she fell into the River Wyre while out walking her dog.
Superintendent Sally Riley of Lancashire Police said inquiries so far had left a 10-minute window in which they cannot account for Ms Bulley's movements last Friday.
They believe she did not leave the riverside area.
Ms Riley said: "We remain open to any inquiries that might lead us to question that, but at this time we understand that she was by the river.
"Our main working hypothesis, therefore, is that Nicola has sadly fallen into the river, that there is no third-party or criminal involvement and that this is not suspicious, but a tragic case of a missing person.
"This is particularly important because speculation otherwise can be really distressing for the family and for Nicola's children."
Ms Bulley, 45, a mortgage adviser from Inskip, Lancashire, vanished while walking her dog in the village of St Michael's on Wyre after dropping off her daughters, aged six and nine, at school last Friday.
The last confirmed sighting of her was at 9.10am and she had logged on to a work Teams call, which ended at 9.30am with her still logged on.
Her mobile phone and the lead and harness for her dog, springer spaniel Willow, were found on a bench close to the river at around 9.35am.
Police say inquiries suggest her phone was on the bench at 9.20am.
Ms Riley said: "It's now a week since Nicola went missing and her disappearance has understandably caused a huge amount of concern and upset in the local community, as well as being an absolutely awful time for her family.
"As a mum, I can't begin to imagine the suffering they are going through. We are supporting them as best we can and keeping them updated on our efforts to try and find Nicola."
She urged the public to look out along the river for the items of clothing that Ms Bulley was last seen wearing, including an ankle-length black quilted gilet jacket, a black Engelbert Strauss waist-length coat, tight-fitting black jeans, long green walking socks, ankle-length green Next wellies, a necklace and a pale blue Fitbit.
"It's really important that the public pay heed to those very specific clothing descriptions please, because factual sightings of those items would be very useful to us," she added.
It comes after the partner of the missing dog walker said her family is going round in circles thinking about what might have happened but "every scenario" is a dead end.
Speaking near the scene where the mother-of-two was last seen, Paul Ansell said he was "focusing on staying strong for the children".
He said all the family had been doing since she vanished a week ago was "sitting thinking about every possible scenario".
Ms Bulley, a 45-year-old mortgage advisor, disappeared whilst walking the family spaniel on her usual route around the village of St Michael’s on Wyre, where her two daughters are at primary school.
Speaking to Sky News on Friday morning, Mr Ansell said: "I can’t believe that it's a week on and as yet it seems like we are no further on.
"It just seems absolutely impossible. It's like a dream. I can't get my head around any of it.
"Every scenario comes to a brick wall. Every single one of them. All we are doing is sitting there going round and round thinking of every scenario and then going back to the first scenario again and doing the whole thing again. It is all day long that is all we are doing."
Mr Ansell thanked the local community for their support which he described as “incredible”.
"It's amazing it is. That's the only thing we can take that level of support out of this world it gives us a great amount of comfort that that is going on. We don't have anything else do we.
"We are never ever going to lose the hope – of course we aren't – but right now it is as though she has vanished into thin air.
"It's just insane."
Mr Ansell said he was focusing all of his efforts on staying strong for his two children.
He added: "My focus is just on my two girls and staying as strong as I can for them.
"If I put any focus onto anything else it is going to take my focus off that."
Ms Bulley was last seen walking her dog near the River Wyre in St Michael's on Wyre, Lancashire, last Friday morning.
On Friday morning, members of the local community stood by the side of the road holding signs bearing Ms Bulley's photo, urging people to contact police with information.
Lancashire Police, who have launched a huge search operation, said that despite "unanswered questions", people should not "speculate or spread false rumours" about the disappearance.
Ms Bulley was last seen at 9.10am and she had logged on to a work Teams call, which ended at 9.30am with her still logged on.
Her mobile phone and the lead and harness for her dog, springer spaniel Willow, were found on a bench close to the River Wyre in the Lancashire countryside.
Lancashire Police have said they do not believe any crime has been committed and are treating the incident as a missing person inquiry.