Mystery as Cops Say Missing British Mom Nicola Bulley Likely Fell Into River, But Loved Ones Suspect Otherwise

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

The 45-year-old mom from Lancashire has two daughters who miss her dearly, her husband said in a statement.

What happened to Nicola Bulley, a northern England mom of two who disappeared while out for a morning walk with her dog? Lancashire authorities have been actively searching the river they believe she had fallen into, but loved ones don’t believe she died drowning.

“Nikki is an incredibly strong swimmer,” read a post on Facebook written by Tilly Ann, a close friend of Nicola and her husband.

The 45-year-old was last seen the morning of Friday, Jan. 27, when she was out on a walk with her dog Willow after dropping her kids off at school, according to police. The path she had taken along the waterways of St. Michael on Wyre village that day was one she had often taken, her friend said.

Bulley joined a Teams conference call around 9 a.m., but did not log off at 9:30 a.m., when the call ended, authorities said.

Another dogwalker discovered her cell phone and dog at a bench by the river minutes later, according to authorities.

“Our working hypothesis remains that Nicola, 45, sadly fell into the river for some reason,” Lancaster police said in a statement. They said they have spent the days since her disappearance searching the waterways between the river and the sea with search teams, sonar, search dogs, drone and helicopter.

"There is no evidence whatsoever that there is anything suspicious about her disappearance or any third-party involvement in her going missing," Lancashire police said in an earlier statement. 

One belief floated by authorities was that her dog may have thrown a ball into the river or otherwise led her to the water’s edge, where Bulley slipped. But her loved ones say there is “no evidence” that Bulley would have fallen in the water, according to Sky News.

Bulley’s dad said there were no footprints or scuffs in the mud to indicate she had fallen, CBS News reported.

Tilly Ann also said in her Facebook post that they haven’t brought the dog's ball out for walks lately because the pup has been too protective over the ball.

Her post added that Willow was dry when she was discovered, leading loved ones to believe the dog did not touch the river at all.

Despite authorities having ruled out foul play, her parents fear she may have been abducted, CBS News reported.

According to the Lancashire City Council, Lancashire has the third highest crime rate of North West England, which includes Greater Manchester, and has a crime rate higher than the national average in England and Wales. 

Loved ones and law enforcement continue to ask the public to come forward with any leads of what may have happened to Bulley.

“It’s been 10 days now since Nicola went missing and I have two little girls who miss their mummy desperately and who need her back,” her husband Paul Ansell said in a statement through authorities. “This has been such a tough time for the girls especially, but also for me and all of Nicola’s family and friends.”

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