Nicola Bulley: Timeline of events since her disappearance

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Police are still searching for missing mother-of-two Nicola Bulley, 19 days since she vanished.

Ms Bulley disappeared while walking her springer spaniel Willow in the village of St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire, after she dropped her two daughters – aged six and nine – at school on January 27.

Here is a timeline of events surrounding the disappearance:

– January 27

At 8.26am Ms Bulley left her home with her two daughters, aged six and nine, dropping them off at school and engaging in a brief conversation with another parent around 15 minutes later.

Nicola Bulley missing
(Peter Byrne/PA)

At 8.53am, Ms Bulley sent an email to her boss, followed by a message to her friends six minutes later, 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.

Her phone was back in the area of the bench at 9.20am before the Teams call ended 10 minutes later, with her mobile remaining logged on after the call.

At 9.33am, 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.

– 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.

(PA Graphics)

Local residents held a meeting at the village hall to organise a search, with police urging volunteers to remain cautious.

– 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.

– 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.

Meanwhile, Ms Bulley’s family appealed to the public for help tracing her.

– February 3

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

– February 4

The force announced it wanted to trace a “key witness” who was seen pushing a pram in the area near where Ms Bulley went missing on the morning of her disappearance.

– February 5

The woman described as a “key witness” by police came forward.

The force insisted she was “very much being treated as a witness” as it warned against “totally unacceptable” speculation and abuse on social media.

Reports emerged that a private underwater rescue team was set to assist police in the search for Ms Bulley.

Nicola Bulley missing
(Danny Lawson/PA)

Underwater search experts arrived to help.

Ms Bulley’s friends said they hoped the help of a specialist underwater rescue team would give the family answers.

Her partner, Paul Ansell, said in a statement: “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.”

– February 7

Police rejected suggestions she could have been a victim of crime.

Lancashire Police said their extensive inquiries have “so far not found anything of note”.

A team of 40 detectives were working on approximately 500 different lines of inquiry, it was said.

The force urged the public to avoid “distressing” speculation about what may have happened to Ms Bulley.

Elsewhere, underwater search expert Peter Faulding, who was helping to find her, said he did not think the missing mother was in the water.

– February 8

Mr Ansell spent 10 minutes on the riverbank near the bench where Ms Bulley’s phone was found.

Nicola Bulley missing
Paul Ansell visited the scene (PA Video)

Mr Faulding said after three unsuccessful days of looking in the water, he was “baffled”.

Search teams were focusing on the 10 miles or so of river downstream of the bench, where the River Wyre empties into the sea at Morecambe Bay.

– February 9

Lancashire Police was granted a dispersal order to break up groups of people reportedly filming in the village.

– February 10

Mr Ansell said the family was going through “unprecedented hell”, but that he would never give up hope of finding her.

Emma White, a friend of Ms Bulley, said the search for the missing woman in St Michael’s on Wyre had been “like torture”.

Meanwhile, police urged people to refrain from indulging in commentary and conspiracy theories online.

– February 12

Friends and family left yellow ribbons with handwritten messages on a bridge close to where she disappeared.

Nicola Bulley missing
(Danny Lawson)

A large poster with a photograph of Ms Bulley was also attached to the railings.

– February 13

Wyre Council removed councillors’ contact details from its website due to “inappropriate emails and phone calls” about Ms Bulley’s disappearance.

It also temporarily removed contact details for “parish and town council members”.

Two people were arrested on suspicion of sending malicious communications.

– February 15

During a press conference, senior police officers said Ms Bulley was “vulnerable” and classed as a “high-risk” missing person.

They hit out at “false information, accusations and rumours” which had been circulating.

Activity by online amateur sleuths and social media video-makers had meant officers were “distracted significantly”, the force said.

Detective Superintendent Rebecca Smith, the lead investigator, told reporters: “In 29 years’ police service I’ve never seen anything like it.

“Some of it has been quite shocking and really hurtful to the family.”

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