Nicola Bulley still missing: Police trace key witness as search for mum-of-two continues
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Police searching for a missing mum-of-two who disappeared while walking her dog have traced a key witness they wanted to speak to. The search for Nicola Bulley, from Inskip in Lancashire, is now entering its ninth day after the 45-year-old vanished on the morning of Friday, January 27.
Lancashire Police say they believe Nicola, a mortgage adviser, may have fallen in the River Wyre as she walked her dog in the village of St Michael’s. But this weekend her sister, Louise Cunningham, posted on Facebook that there was “no evidence whatsoever” to suggest this had happened and urged the public to keep an open mind.
On Saturday (February 5), police released an image of a “key witness” who was in the area at the time of Nicola’s disappearance - a woman wearing a yellow coat and pushing a pram along Garstang Road and Blackpool Lane.
Officers have stressed that the woman “came forward very quickly” and is “very much being treated as a witness”. Detectives have also made a fresh appeal for drivers who might have dashcam footage from the area where Nicola was last seen to come forward.
"[The woman] was one of many people in St Michael’s on Friday, 27 January," the force wrote in a social media post. "Our enquiries to find Nicola are extensive and will include speaking to as many members of the public as possible."
A major search has continued into the weekend involving police divers, drones and a helicopter. But as yet, nothing has been found to explain what happened to Nicola.
Lancashire Police said at the moment its “main working hypothesis” is that she fell in the river “for some reason”, adding there was “no evidence” of anything suspicious or third-party involvement. Nicola’s friend Emma White told the BBC while out on a search this weekend: "We still have no evidence and that’s why we’re out again in force.
"You don’t base life on a hypothesis, do you?,” she added. “You absolutely can have hypotheses, but then you need something to back that hypothesis up to become factual."
Where is Nicola Bulley? Everything we know so far and full timeline
- Nicola is last seen walking her dog, a brown-coloured Spaniel named Willow, next to the River Wyre in St Michael’s - a village in Lancashire. The last confirmed sighting of her was at around 9.15am on Friday, January 27. It is understood she dropped her two little girls off at school before setting off on her walk.
- Shortly afterwards, Nicola’s dog was discovered running loose between the river and a bench. Her phone was found on the bench, connected to a Teams work conference. Fellow staff told The Telegraph that Nicola had logged onto the meeting at 9.01am, was muted and didn’t have her camera on.
- That weekend (Saturday, January 28 - Sunday, January 29) the huge search for Nicola continues with police deploying drones, search dogs, underwater search teams and other resources. The local community, joined by Nicola’s partner Paul Ansell, also join in the search.
- A police press conference is held on Monday, January 30. Chief Inspector Chris Barton, of Lancashire Police, tells reporters that the force is following a number of lines of inquiry and keeping “an open mind”. Paul Ansell says he and the rest of Nicola’s family are living in “perpetual Hell”.
- On Tuesday, January 31 a key witness came forward after police had been searching for a man with a “small, fluffy white dog” who had seen Nicola on her walk. It is understood the witness spoke with officers that evening.
- On Wednesday, February 1, police began searching an old abandoned house next to the River Wyre. The house is said to be directly opposite the bench where Nicola went missing, over a 10ft garden wall.
- Nicola’s elderly parents, Ernest and Dot, told The Mirror they “dread” to think they will never see their daughter again, and that they worry “someone has taken her” as there was no sign of her slipping or falling by the river.
- On Thursday, February 2, Nicola’s family shed further light on how they are coping, with Paul revealing that Nicola’s two daughters believe their mummy is “lost”.
- On Friday, February 4, police say they believe that Nicola “fell in the river” but “remain open to any inquiries”. Nicola’s sister Louise posts on Facebook the same night, urging the public to keep an open mind as “there is no evidence whatsoever” to suggest she fell into the water.
- On Saturday, February 5 police reveal they have traced a key witness that they believe could help with the investigation. The woman had been seen pushing a pram on Garstang Road and Blackpool Lane, close to where Nicola went missing, on January 27.