Disappearance of Nicola Bulley: Body Found in River Identified as Missing UK Mom

Nicole Bulley, the northern England mother of two, is seen in a selfie with her dog.

Lancashire authorities on Monday confirmed the body belonged to Nicola Bulley, who was last seen walking her dog Willow the morning of Jan. 27 after dropping her kids off at school.

Northern England mom Nicola Bulley’s partner Paul Ansell says the family has “no words right now, just agony,” as a body was discovered in the river less than a mile from where the mother of two was last seen, Sky News reported.

The body was discovered by passersby who spotted a person in the water and called police, authorities said.

Lancashire authorities on Monday confirmed the body belonged to Bulley.

“Sadly, we are now able to confirm that yesterday we recovered Nicola Bulley from the River Wyre," Assistant Chief Constable Peter Lawson said at a press conference Monday. 

“Nicola’s family have been informed and are of course devastated. Our thoughts are with them at this time as well as with all her loved ones and the wider community. We recognize the huge impact that Nicola’s disappearance has had on her family and friends, but also on the people of St Michael’s. We would like to thank all of those who have helped during what has been a hugely complex and highly emotional investigation. 

“Today’s development is not the outcome any of us would have wanted, but we hope that it can at least start to provide some answers for Nicola’s loved ones, who remain foremost in our thoughts," Lawson continued. "The case is now being handled by HM coroner.” 

Her family had been informed that a body had been found prior to the official identification. Bulley's death was being treated "as unexplained," authorities said. “Nicola’s family have been informed of developments and our thoughts are with them at this most difficult of times. We ask that their privacy is respected,” read a statement by authorities released ahead of the official identification.

“We’re all together, we have to be strong,” Ansell told Sky News.

Bulley, 45, was last seen walking her dog Willow the morning of Jan. 27 after dropping her kids off at school, police said. The route she took along the waterways of St. Michael on Wyre village was one she took often, friends said.

She was feared missing when her dog was found alone at 9:30 a.m., and she was still connected to a Teams call on her phone she dialed into half an hour prior, authorities said.

The disappearance has since dominated British headlines.

Meanwhile, Lancashire constabulary have been heavily criticized for their handling of the case.

Ahead of the discovery of the body, authorities released a statement detailing Bulley’s struggles with alcoholism, her struggles with perimenopause and noted she had stopped taking hormone replacement therapy medicine – a disclosure about private information that some U.K. lawmakers have deemed “shocking.”

Her family, however, said they allowed authorities to share certain details. “Although we know that Nikki would not have wanted this, there are people out there speculating and threatening to sell stories about her," the family said. 

Family also shared concerns about authorities’ search that police said would be limited to the waterways near where she disappeared. “Nikki was an incredibly strong swimmer,” a close friend of the family wrote on Facebook, expressing concerns authorities had not been investigating other leads.

In a statement read on behalf of Bulley's family, her loved ones criticized the media's response to her disappearance, including the coverage of unfounded accusations made against her partner of "wrongdoing," and for contacting them after police confirmed a body had been found, despite the family's request for privacy, according to The Guardian.

“Finally, Nikki, you are no longer a missing person, you have been found, we can let you rest now, " the statement concluded. "We love you, always have and always will, we’ll take it from here.”

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