Friends of missing mother-of-2 hope private diving team find 'nothing'

‘We hope they uncover nothing, like police have done for 10 days’: Friends of Nicola Bulley bring in private diving team to launch new search after refusing to accept officers’ theory that missing mother-of-two fell in river

  • Expert diving team will help police in search of missing Nicola Bulley today 
  • Friend of 10 years Emma White says ‘we hope Nicola is not in that river’ 

A friend of missing mother-of-two Nicola Bulley says she hopes specialist underwater teams will uncover nothing – because then it rules out the theory she fell into the river.

An expert diving team will use helicopters and specialist sonar equipment as they assist in the search for Nicola today. 

Peter Faulding, a world-renowned forensics expert and founder of private search and rescue organisation Specialist Group International, said he would be bringing ‘high-spec’ sonar equipment worth around £55,000 that has a ‘very high hit rate’ and can ‘find people within the hour’ in search operations. He vowed today: ‘If she is there, I will find her’.

Today friends of the missing mother, who vanished while walking her dog near the River Wyre in Lancashire more than a week ago, say they hope the help of the specialist underwater rescue team will give her family answers.

Emma White said they were pleased Peter’s team would be assisting police – but is keeping everything crossed they don’t find anything. 

She told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: ‘We hope they uncover nothing, like the police have done for the last 10 days, and we hope Nicola is not in that river.’

It comes as reports say Ms Bulley was due to watch one of her children perform in a show this weekend and it went ahead without her.

Missing person signs have been put up in the local area appealing for information

Nicola Bulley, 45, was last seen a over a week ago walking next to the River Wyre in St Michael’s on Wyre in Lancashire

Ms White said she believes Mr Faulding’s equipment is more sophisticated the the kit police have. 

‘Peter’s here, working with Lancashire Police, and we just have to have everything crossed that the search continues and Nicola is not in that river. 

‘We don’t want to undermine all the work police have done but when you get that glimmer of hope and you look at what the company does, his records and what he has achieved then you think we need to get this expert here – and we can’t thank you enough for bringing the team down.’

Ms White said the police theory that Nicola fell into the River Wyre ‘is based on a theory, with no actual evidence to support it’.

Emma, who has known Ms Bulley for 10 years, told Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘The hypothesis is based on limited information – I’ve said before it’s a theory – and we sadly can’t base life on a theory.’

The bench where missing woman Nicola Bulley’s mobile phone and pet dog were found in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire

The search continues for missing Nicola Bulley in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire

Emma White said: ‘We just have to have everything crossed that the search continues and Nicola is not in that river’

She thanked the public for their support, and kindness shown towards Nicola’s family, and said at the core of their rescue campaign are ‘two little girls who want their Mummy’.

Mr Faulding, speaking from his helicopter en route to the scene he said: ‘We are having a briefing at 8.30 am, and then going to the location to set up. They are getting a briefing at a farmhouse and then they’ll move to the scene.

‘We are working closely with the police to provide extra support. We are going to be using a high-frequency side scan sonar. That’s going to be used to search down the river, past the weir.’

‘That will give us a crystal clear image of anything on the river bed. It shows every rock and every stone.

‘On a straight river, we can do about ten miles of river a day. But this is a very windy, changeable river, up and down in depth. So we will do the best we can.

He added: ‘I’m confident with my expertise over 20 odd years that if she is there, I will find her with that sonar. I will be operating that sonar.’

Mr  Faulding, who will also survey the route of the river by helicopter, earlier told Sky News: ‘We’re assisting with our dive team. We carry out all the underwater operations in the south east for the police anyway, but we’re bringing a particularly high-spec piece of equipment, 1,800-kilohertz specialist side-scan sonar.

‘Each year we deal with a lot of drownings and we locate them extremely quickly. The difference with this sonar is that it’s very, very high frequency.

She is seen on security footage wearing a long dark coat, leggings and ankle boots with her hair tied in a ponytail

Still pictures showing Ms Bulley just hours before she vanished have been released by a friend in a bid to find her.

 ‘It’s about £55,000 and it scans the river and I can see every stick and stone lying on the river bed. We’ve got a very high hit rate with this.’

He added: ‘Our sonar is probably a bit more superior but I’ve got a lot of specialist search expertise and I’ve worked on hundreds of these cases and we always generally find people within the hour in lakes etc.’

It comes as a former detective described Lancashire Police’s decision to publicly reveal its belief that Nicola fell into a river as ‘extremely unusual and concerning’.

The 11 key details written by Nicola Bulley’s friend: 

Martyn Underhill, who was a senior officer in the police probe of the abduction and murder of Sarah Payne in West Sussex, told The Times that there are several possibilities as to what may have taken place in the vital ten-minute window identified by police.

He also warned that detectives are risking ‘boxing themselves into a theory’.

Mr Underhill added: ‘If the public is told that they think it’s a terrible accident, it risks people switching off. It can deter someone coming forward with crucial evidence.

‘Coming out with such a definitive narrative publicly will make it hard to row back if the circumstances change. And they’ve offended the family and friends at the same time. It is really bizarre.’ 

Yesterday, poignant footage emerged of Ms Bulley’s young daughter spotting search teams looking for her missing mother.

The six-second video shared by friends showed daughter Sophia, six, pointing towards a search team and asking: ‘Them helicopters, they’re looking for mummy.’

Meanwhile, friends say Ms Bulley’s two daughters attended a school disco on Friday evening as part of efforts among parents to ‘keep things as normal as possible’ for the children.

Jill Peck, who attended a vigil to light candles at St Michael’s Church on Sunday, told Sky News: ‘If something was in the diary, it’s been kept in the diary. They are aware that something is happening but we’re trying to keep it away from the school.

‘They just desperately want her home and that is all they are asking all the time is ‘where is she and is she coming home?”.

The girls’ school is said to have told pupils of the situation and teachers have put on yoga sessions to help them stay calm and relaxed. 

Police yesterday called in divers to assist in the search, after reportedly initially turning down specialist assistance despite the family’s pleas.

Peter initially said Lancashire Police had refused his offer of specialist divers and equipment to aid in the search.

But in a subsequent statement, he confirmed his expert team has left Surrey on Sunday night to join police in the search for the missing mother from this morning.

He said yesterday: ‘I have just had a long call with the Lancashire Police search adviser to discuss the search for Nicola. We will work closely with the police search teams who are working long hours to find Nicola.

‘The team are leaving shortly from our base in Dorking on route to Lancashire to start tomorrow morning.’

It came after an earlier statement in which he said police had turned down his offer of assistance, saying: ‘Following my public message to Lancashire Police offering the services of the SGI underwater search team and our vast range of specialist equipment free of charge to assist in the search for Nicola Bulley, I was subsequently contacted directly by the grieving family pleading for a way to make this happen.

‘Unfortunately, Lancashire police have responded via the family declining my offer saying they will continue with their own river searches using their current resources let us know if we are required.’

Confirming their attendance, a spokesperson for Lancashire Police said: ‘We can confirm we have been approached by SGI who have offered to assist with the search for Nicola Bulley and that offer has been taken up after speaking with Nicola’s family.

‘We continue to lead an extensive and far reaching multi-agency search using a wide range of specialist equipment and resources.

‘Our sole focus is to find Nicola and provide the answers her family so desperately need. We would like to thank our partner agencies and the local community for their continued efforts and support.

‘We are also liaising with experts across national policing to ensure we continue to do everything we can and use every available tactic to find Nicola.’

Peter Faulding, a world-renowned forensics expert who is a diver for the police and has worked on hundreds of cases across the southeast, confirmed his specialist rescue and underwater team has been called in to help with the search

A still picture taken from CCTV at Ms Bulley’s house showing the mother on her driveway on the morning she went missing

The mother is seen wearing a long jacket with leggings and walking boots as she uses the boot of her car

World-renowned forensics expert, Peter Faulding, does not agree with police claims that Nicola Bulley, 45, fell into the River Wyre 

Police investigating the mysterious disappearance of mother Nicola Bulley have not found any evidence that she slipped or fell into the river but will continue their search

The family friend thanked those who had shared their support along with the list of details surrounding Nicola’s disappearance 

Police search teams were pictured in boats on the River looking for the missing 45-year-old

Meanwhile, still pictures from cameras at her home, showing Ms Bulley on her driveway just hours before she vanished, have been released by a friend as part of the desperate search to find her.

The mother, 45, can be seen in a long jacket, leggings and walking boots with her hair tied in a pony tail prior to taking her two daughters on the 3.8-mile journey to drop them off at school in St Michael’s on Wyre on January 27.

Friends of the couple have also urged members of the public to halt levelling ‘disgusting accusations’ at her partner Paul Ansell and say the images show why he has never been a suspect.

They also said he is suffering ‘hurt and pain’, but is ‘completely focusing’ on their two daughters. 

READ MORE: Forensic expert claims missing Nicola Bulley did not fall into river


Mr Faulding also said yesterday that he believes it is unlikely that the river bank is the correct answer regarding the disappearance. 

The forensics expert told GBNews: ‘The amount of searching that’s gone on in this river, I would have thought she would have been found by now. Normally when a person drowns, if they are left a number of days they don’t move very far.

‘This is not a fast tidal river. So I would have expected her to be found by the police divers by now… It’s as clear as that. And you know, none of this rings right to me. My belief is she’s not in not in the river at all.’

Mr Faulding said that not enough factors added up in his opinion, suggesting that Ms Bulley’s phone could have been left on the bench as a ‘decoy’. 

He continued: ‘I personally think this phone could be a decoy.

‘We dealt with a drowning a couple of years ago where a gentleman went into a river and Ripley, his dog, was screaming by the riverbank when we got there.

‘When we arrived it was howling, and literally pointing exactly where he was. He stayed with his owner.

‘The phone on the bench, I mean, you have to ask, normally someone would have a phone in their hand especially if they were walking around.’

The forensics worker said it ‘feels odd’ that no one spoke of the fact that Ms Bulley was not wearing clothes that would have absorbed water quickly, there were no marks at the scene and that not one person heard screams.

Additionally, he criticised the fact that the location has not remained cordoned off.

He said: ‘People have been walking past the bench. There’s no police tape up. This would normally be sealed off as a crime scene so potentially crime scene investigators can go in and see if there are any microfibres, evidence, slip marks down the bank etc and I don’t believe that has actually happened here.’

Tilly Anne noted that Ms Bulley is ‘an incredibly strong swimmer’, and that her dog Willow who she was walking was completely dry when found

Following an urgent appeal for a mother wearing a yellow rain jacket in their ongoing search for missing mother Nicola Bulley, the force wrote that it was ‘pleased to say that the woman came forward very quickly’

Meanwhile, a friend of missing mother Nicola Bulley shared 11 key details about her disappearance – as police scour river after admitting they found ‘no evidence’ she slipped or fell into it.

Tilly Ann, a close friend of Nicola Bulley who has been missing since January 27, shared key details in a Facebook post following the 45-year-old’s disappearance. 

How dog behaviour can disclose hidden clues to mysteries

Dogs are believed to be able to find the last location of their owners through their sense of smell.

Experts advise those searching should go back to where the dog was last spotted because it will backtrack to its owner and their scent. 

A dog’s sense of smell is 10,000 times more powerful than a human and can pick up locational scent. 

If it’s home is far away and the dog can’t find its owner, it will get worried and try to return home to somewhere familiar. 

In certain cases, some dogs will return home along or attempt to follow their missing owner, according to Colin Tennant, director of the Cambridge Institute of Dog Behaviour and Training, who wrote in The Sunday Times today.

Dogs cannot, however, process what is happening if a human falls into water. In this case, the dog might run along the bank looking for eye-contact or stop on the bank as the last place of detection. 

Essential information from the post read that unfortunately the only CCTV camera at a residential caravan park ‘that would have seen Nikki’ is not working.

She added that her friend and her partner Paul take the walk along the river regularly and would be well-recognised by the local community.

Tilly Anne noted that Ms Bulley is ‘an incredibly strong swimmer’, and that her dog Willow who she was walking was completely dry when found. 

She wrote that the dog would never have a harness on during the familiar walk and is removed at a gate at the top of the field. When the dog was found, it was very close to the bench along with the harness on the floor. 

She added that her friend would often put her phone on loud-speaker when talking – her phone was discovered close to the river bank and she had previously been on a conference call before she vanished.

The family friend thanked those who had shared their support and contributed to the search for Nicola – saying it had ‘created such a comfort to Nikki’s family’.

Detailing the impact on Paul she wrote that he is struggling to hold back his pain, but is focusing on his children and does not want to worry them ‘more than they already are’.

On Saturday, police released an image of a potential witness who was spotted in the area at the time of Ms Bulley’s disappearance.

Later that evening, they released a statement that said the force ‘pleased to say that the woman came forward very quickly’ and were treating her as a ‘key witness’ in the investigation.

The Facebook post by Lancashire Police added: ‘Our enquiries to find Nicola are extensive and will include speaking to as many members of the public as possible.’

A police helicopter over St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire, as police continue their search

 Specialist crews will return to the river today to continue scouring the area for clues

Essential information from the post read that unfortunately the only CCTV camera at a residential caravan park ‘that would have seen Nikki’ is not working

Specialist crews returned to the river today to continue scouring the area for clues

Photographs of police scouring the River Wyre in St Michael’s on Wyre in Lancashire where the mother was last seen have been released as they continue to search.

The police insist that it is their primary theory despite not having found any evidence that she slipped or fell into the river.

Following their first lead of the new witness, they are continuing the investigation as the search on the Wyre River enters its 10th day.

The second new line of inquiry relates to a Fitbit Ms Bulley was wearing on the morning she vanished. Police hope to use technology to help track her whereabouts via the smart watch.

Fitbits are also capable of monitoring a heart rate and could provide vital clues relating to Ms Bulley’s last known movements before she vanished. 

Specialist crews will return to the river today to continue scouring the area for clues. 

And while maintaining it is still the ‘lead theory’ that Ms Bulley somehow came to be in the water, police have now revealed there is no evidence which backs this up – a sentiment which has been repeatedly echoed by the missing mother’s family.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, Lancashire Police Superintendent Sally Riley said there is ‘no evidence of a slip or fall’ in the area at the centre of the investigation.

‘I think if it had been a sloping bank, a commonsense view would be that you would expect to find scuff marks.

‘If it is sheer and you lose your footing, you might not have any marks left on the grass. All of that has been subjected to a detailed search.’ 

Supt Riley said on the balance of probabilities, it is ‘highly unlikely’ criminal activity took place in such a tiny window of time which is currently unaccounted for.

Police are still trying to piece together about 10 minutes from the morning Ms Bulley disappeared.

Father-of-two Paul Ansell, 44, said Ms Bulley’s disappearance feels ‘no more real now’ than it did when he first learned she was missing 

She said: ‘This is a low-crime area. It’s genuinely a safe, tight-knit area, people look out for each other. A third-party [being] involved that we haven’t yet had sightings of, we haven’t caught on CCTV or dash-cam or all the other things I’ve mentioned, is just not likely.’

This does not mean they’ve entirely ruled out other scenarios. 

Officers are still desperately appealing for witnesses to come forward, particularly near a CCTV black spot near Garstang Lane.

And Ms Bulley’s distraught partner has not given up hope of finding her alive, stating he ‘will not entertain any other outcome’ as the search continues.

Father-of-two Paul Ansell, 44, said Ms Bulley’s disappearance feels ‘no more real now’ than it did when he first learned she was missing.

‘The agony continues… the hope is stronger than ever of finding you. We need her home… we need a happy ending to this nightmare,’ he said. 

Mr Ansell also doubled down on comments from Ms Bulley’s friends and other relatives warning police have very little basis for their theory that she fell in the river.

He said there was ‘no evidence yet to suggest any scenario over another and all options must be kept wide open’. 

Mr Ansell also doubled down on comments from Ms Bulley’s friends and other relatives warning police have very little basis for their theory that she fell in the river 

Underwater forensics expert Peter Faulding told the Mail police may have missed ‘critical’ evidence because they failed to seal off the area where Ms Bulley vanished.

Mr Faulding, who has worked on many high-profile criminal cases, said officers were too quick to decide there were no suspicious circumstances and described their investigation as ‘a mess’.

‘It should have been sealed off immediately as a potential crime scene. That area is critical. Critical forensics could have been found in that location,’ he said.

‘Now we’ve had loads of people trampling around, covering up any tracks.

‘I don’t know how the police can say there’s no evidence of third-party involvement in this disappearance when they haven’t actually checked. I think this is a mess, really.’

Police said: ‘We would urge people to remember that we are investigating the disappearance of Nicola, and the priority is Nicola and her family. We want to find her and provide answers to her family’

Divers will continue looking for the missing mother throughout Saturday 

Police previously appealed for witnesses, sharing a grainy image of a woman wearing a yellow rain jacket and pushing a pram with a young child. 

Officers from Lancashire Constabulary described the woman in the photo as a ‘key witness’ and believe she was in the same area as Ms Bulley on Friday January 27, the morning she vanished from the River Wyre while walking her dog. 

Within minutes of the initial appeal being made public, a relative confirmed the woman was ‘on the phone’ to police.

She said the woman in yellow had not seen anything that could assist police in the investigation. 

Lancashire Police said: ‘We must stress that she was very much being treated as a witness and was one of many people in St Michael’s on Friday, January 27th.

‘Our enquiries to find Nicola are extensive and will include speaking to as many members of the public as possible.’

Amid reports of a widening difference of opinion between Ms Bulley’s family and detectives, Mr Ansell echoed police’s pleas for potential witnesses who might have dashcam footage to come forward. 

Police are particularly interested in speaking with people who may have been travelling near Blackpool Lane and Garstang Lane between 9am and 10am on the day Ms Bulley vanished.  

Members of the public joined the widespread search for the 45-year-old over the weekend

Ms Bulley’s loved ones question police theory that she entered river: READ MORE

‘Whilst you may not think that you hold any relevant information, it is really important that we gather as much footage as possible from the area that morning so we can review every piece meticulously to establish whether Nicola can be seen,’ police said.

‘We know from the footage we are currently reviewing, that this is a busy road, particularly at that time in the morning.

‘There will be many people who were in that area at the time who may not think they can help, however we would urge you not to make that decision yourself and to come forward so we can have as much material as possible to assist the investigation.’

The appeal for footage from Garstang Lane comes after police said that while their lead theory is that the missing mother fell into the river, they’re still exploring other possibilities.

Substantial CCTV in the region has all but ruled out she exited the park from most of the surrounding gates, but the path leading to Garstang Lane toward the A5/A6 has thus far proven to be a camera black spot.

Lancashire Police Superintendent Sally Riley told the Lancashire Post: ‘Several exits of the riverside area have CCTV covering them or exits are locked and therefore couldn’t have been passed through by Nicola. 

‘There’s only a very small area onto Garstang Lane toward the A5/A6 which is not covered by CCTV and that’s why we’re appealing today for dashcam footage or for people who may have been walking on Garstang Lane or driving in the area to come forward if they can.’ 

The owners of a caravan park close to the riverbank where Ms Bulley is believed to have fallen into the water have already had their CCTV tapes seized by police. 

Nicola Bulley’s sister (pictured together) warned there is ‘no evidence whatsoever’ that suggests the missing mother fell in the river, despite police confirming it’s their lead theory

A police helicopter was seen over St Michael’s on Wyre in Lancashire on Saturday

A spokesperson for the force said they’re looking to speak to as many witnesses as possible as the search continues, before again pleading with the public to avoid speculation.

‘The speculation and abuse on social media aimed at some people who are merely assisting our enquiry, is totally unacceptable,’ a spokesperson said. 

This is the latest of several public appeals police have made since Ms Bulley vanished. Earlier, a woman in a bright red coat was identified following a similar callout. She told police she had nothing of value to report from the morning in question. 

Police expressed concerns the missing mother-of-two may have fallen in the icy cold water on River Wyre while trying to retrieve her dog Willow’s tennis ball.  Specialist search crews have not recovered the ball – or anything of note – at this stage.

If Ms Bulley did fall into the water, she may have been weighed down by the heavy clothing she was wearing on the day she vanished.

But her sister Louise Cunningham urged the public to keep an open mind in a social media post last night. 

Officers were seen in lines walking close to the river bank on both sides on Saturday morning

Officers have been seen walking the tow path next to the river, a route Ms Bulley often took after dropping her daughters off at school

Paul Ansell issued a public appeal through the media in the week, vowing not to give up hope

‘Off the back of the latest police media update, please can I add there is no evidence whatsoever that she has gone into the river, it’s just a theory,’ she said.

‘Everyone needs to keep an open mind as not all CCTV and leads have been investigated fully, the police confirmed the case is far from over.’

Anyone with information or footage is asked to call 101, quoting log 565 of January 30. For immediate sightings, please call 999.

Police are said to be looking into how to access data from Ms Bulley’s Fitbit in a bid to track her movements, her friend revealed today.

Friend Emma White said on Saturday that the Fitbit had not been synced to a device since Tuesday. 

Speaking close to the spot where Ms Bulley was last seen, Ms White said: ‘The police are trying to use the data from her Fitbit to find her. The watch can receive data, but cannot connect to the internet.

‘However, we hope they can somehow locate it using Bluetooth signals from people’s phones. We are clinging to hope. Nicola falling into the river is just a hypothesis.’

She added the Fitbit has not ‘synced’ with its servers since the Tuesday before Ms Bulley’s disappearance.

Police are said to be trying to trace data from Nicola Bulley’s Fitbit (pictured on her right arm)

Nicola, 45, disappeared shortly after dropping her two daughters off at school on January 27

‘Lady in red’ who police hoped might hold crucial information tells officers she didn’t see the missing mother-of-two: READ MORE

There are ways to access a Fitbit’s data using the app on the owner’s phone or third-party tracking apps, which can allow any smartphone to sync with the device if it is within a 100ft radius.

But this only lasts for as long as the Fitbit still has battery left. 

Search teams from Lancashire Constabulary are continuing to trawl the River Wyre, along with specialist crews from around the country.

Friends of the family said on Friday that Ms Bulley’s daughters had been asking: ‘Where’s Mummy? How is Mummy?’  

Their father is trying to put on a brave face for the sake of the children, and is being supported by Ms Bulley’s distraught parents and sister.

The missing mortgage adviser, 45, sent a text to a friend organising a playdate for their children minutes before she vanished, it emerged yesterday. 

A resident of St Michael’s on Wyre said: ‘She booked a playdate, 8.57am, she sent a text message to a friend whose mortgage she had just recently signed off on to arrange for the girls to go for tea this week.’

The local, who did not want to be named, said this was more evidence that she had no intention of voluntarily disappearing, adding: ‘You wouldn’t have done that if you were going to get up and go missing.’

Anyone with information or footage is asked to call 101, quoting log 565 of January 30. For immediate sightings, call 999

Police officers search near the River Wyre in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire, today

Nicola Bulley’s disappearance: A timeline 

– January 27 

The 45-year-old dropped her daughters – aged six and nine – off at school in the morning before walking her dog, Willow, in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire. 

Lancashire Police have said the mortgage adviser, from nearby Inskip, had been walking along a path beside the River Wyre just before 9am. 

She was seen by a dog walker who knew her at around 8.50am, and their pets interacted briefly before they parted ways, according to the force. 

At 8.53am, Ms Bulley sent an email to her boss, before logging on to a Microsoft Teams call at 9.01am. She was seen by a second witness at 9.10am – the last known sighting.

By 9.30am, Ms Bulley’s Teams call had ended, but her phone stayed connected to the call. Approximately five minutes later, another dog walker found her phone on a bench beside the river, with Willow darting between the two. 

At 10.50am, Ms Bulley’s family and the school attended by her children were told about her disappearance. 

Lancashire Constabulary launched an investigation into Ms Bulley’s whereabouts on the same day and appealed for witnesses to contact them.

 – January 28 

Lancashire Constabulary deployed drones, helicopters and police search dogs as part of the major missing person operation. 

They were assisted by Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, as well as Bowland Pennine Mountain Rescue team and the North West Underwater Search Team. 

– January 29 

Local residents held a meeting at the village hall to organise a search for Ms Bulley at 10.30am on Sunday, according to reports from The Mirror, and around 100 people joined the search.

Police urged volunteers to exercise caution, describing the river and its banks as ‘extremely dangerous’ and saying that activity in these areas presented ‘a genuine risk to the public’. 

– January 30 

Superintendent Sally Riley from Lancashire Constabulary said police were ‘keeping a really open mind about what could have happened’, and that they were not treating Ms Bulley’s disappearance as suspicious. 

– January 31 

Lancashire Constabulary spoke with a potential witness – a man who had been walking a small white fluffy dog near the River Wyre at the time of Ms Bulley’s disappearance. 

Her family released a statement saying they had been ‘overwhelmed by the support’ in their community, and that her daughters were ‘desperate to have their mummy back home safe’. 

– February 1 

Ms Bulley’s parents, Ernest and Dot Bulley, spoke to The Mirror about the ‘horror’ they faced over the possibility of never seeing her again. 

Her father told the newspaper: ‘We just dread to think we will never see her again, if the worst came to the worst and she was never found, how will we deal with that for the rest of our lives.’ 

– February 2 

Lancashire Constabulary spoke with a second witness who they had identified with the help of the public using CCTV – but they told police they did not have any further information to aid their inquiry. 

Officers from the North West Police Underwater and Marine support unit searched the area close to where Ms Bulley’s mobile phone was found, while police divers scoured the River Wyre. 

Meanwhile, Ms Bulley’s family appealed to the public for help tracing her. Speaking with Sky News, her sister Louise Cunningham said: ‘There has got to be somebody who knows something and all we are asking is, no matter how small or big, if there is anything you remember that doesn’t seem right, then please reach out to the police. 

‘Get in touch and get my sister back.’ Ms Bulley’s father said that his family hoped their interview would ‘spark a light’ that would lead to her being found. 

– February 3 

Lancashire Police said they were working on the hypothesis that Ms Bulley may have fallen into the River Wyre. 

Superintendent Sally Riley urged against speculation, but said it was ‘possible’ that an ‘issue’ with Ms Bulley’s dog may have led her to the water’s edge. 

She urged the public to look out for items of clothing Ms Bulley was last seen wearing, and gave an extensive list. 

Ms Bulley’s friends also shared heartfelt appeals via television interviews, including Emma White, who told the BBC that Ms Bulley’s daughters were continually asking where she was. 

– February 4

Friends reveal police are hoping to utilise Ms Bulley’s Fitbit data to help track her.

A new appeal is issued for a mystery ‘woman in yellow’ to come forward. The woman was pictured walking in the same area as Ms Bulley, pushing a stroller with a young child.

Ms Bulley’s partner speaks out to also cast doubt over the police theory she had fallen in the river. Mr Ansell says he will never give up hope of finding her. 

Police confirm there is ‘no evidence’ Ms Bulley fell in the river, despite maintaining it is their lead theory. 

A close family friend, named Tilly Ann, shared 11 key facts about her friend’s disappearance to Facebook. 

 – February 4

Police are pictured scouring the riverbank as they continue to search for Ms Bulley.

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