MANCHESTER, England – Police say they have traced a “key witness” as they continue to search for a missing mom who disappeared five days ago.
Nicola Bulley, 45, was last seen on Friday, Jan. 27, 2023, walking her springer spaniel on a path by the River Wyre, in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire in England.
The mother of two’s family says they are “desperate” for her safe return home, with police maintaining her disappearance remains a missing person investigation and ruling out any third-party involvement.
But mystery surrounds the mortgage adviser’s whereabouts after her mobile phone was found on a nearby bench still connected to a work conference call. Nicola’s dog Willow was also found between the bench and the river.
Lancashire Police said they wanted to trace a “potentially key witness” – a man in his 70s who was walking his dog in the area at the time.
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They’ve since confirmed the man has been found and was now speaking to officers. A huge search of the area involving police specialist resources, working alongside colleagues from the Coastguard and Bowland Mountain Rescue, was continuing today.
Police warned concerned locals who’ve been joining the search not to put themselves in “danger” due to “treacherous” conditions along parts of the riverbank.
It came after a fresh appeal by Nicola’s family for any information that may help police.
They said in a statement: “We have been overwhelmed by the support from our community and would like to thank everyone for their ongoing efforts to help us find Nicola.
“The girls are desperate to have their mummy back home safe with them and your ongoing efforts have provided comfort to them whilst we await news on Nicola.”
According to Britain’s Daily Mirror newspaper, her two children “cried their eyes out” after being told of their mother’s disappearance.
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“We ask for anyone who thinks they may have any Information that may help the police find Nicola to please come forward and help them with their enquiries.”
Nicola is described as White, 5-foot-3, with light brown, shoulder-length hair.
She speaks with an Essex regional accent and when she was last seen she was wearing a long black gilet jacket with a hood, black jeans and olive-green ankle wellies. Her hair was tied into a ponytail.
In an update on Monday, Lancashire police said they were keeping an “open mind” about what happened but didn’t believe Nicola was attacked.
Bulley’s partner Paul Ansell, speaking from the family home in Inskip, Lancashire, said he spent all day Sunday searching for her. The engineer, who has been in a relationship with Bulley for 12 years, told the Daily Mail Online: “It is just perpetual hell. It is just utter disbelief.
“We are living through this but it doesn’t feel real.”
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Superintendent Sally Riley, of Lancashire Police, said: “We remain extremely concerned for Nicola and we continue to do everything we can to try and find her and to provide some answers for her family who are obviously beside themselves with worry. I must stress at this time that this remains a missing person inquiry and at this time there is nothing to suggest any third-party involvement in Nicola’s disappearance.
“We appreciate there is also a great deal of concern in the local community, and we appreciate people want to help. However, parts of the riverbank are treacherous, and we would ask that nobody puts themselves in danger and that the police and partner agencies’ efforts to find Nicola are not compromised.
“If anybody has any questions or concerns, they are welcome to speak to officers in the area.”