Nicola Bulley search recap: Friend slams ‘cruel and unhelpful’ armchair detectives as police searching for missing mother warn against ‘distressing’ speculation

Ms Bulley’s friend slams ‘attention seeking’ armchair detectives

Social media sleuths who have been sharing theories about Nicola Bulley’s disappearance online have been warned they’re only adding to the hurt and pain felt by her family.

A friend said: ‘They perhaps need to find a better way of occupying their time… They could do something more useful and proactive with their time… help search, share posters, but allegations are cruel and unhelpful.”

Armchair detectives and well-meaning strangers have made wild allegations in the days since Ms Bulley vanished. Some people claiming to be psychics say they had visions of the mother-of-two in the river, while others insist she was ‘taken’ – despite repeated police statements saying there does not appear to be third party involvement.

Speaking to The Mirror, a friend said she believes these outlandish hypotheses are the work of ‘attention seekers’, describing the comments as ‘cruel, unhelpful’ and hurtful to Ms Bulley’s loved ones.

Police reveal one park exit did not have CCTV – as they appeal for witnesses or dashcam footage

While police are working to the theory that Ms Bulley somehow came to be in the water, they’re still exploring other avenues to rule out any other potential scenario.

Lancashire Police Superintendent Sally Riley said: ‘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.’ 

How this week’s investigation has unfolded

– 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. 

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 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 about the ‘horror’ they faced over the possibility of never seeing her again. 

Her father said: ‘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. 

– 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. 

Police fear Nicola Bulley may have been weighed down by heavy clothing

Police are concerned Ms Bulley may have been weighed down by the heavy clothing she was wearing on the day she vanished.

The 45-year-old was wearing an ankle-length black quilted gilet jacket, a black Engelbert Strauss waist-length coat, worn underneath the gilet, tight-fitting black jeans, long green walking socks tucked into her jeans and ankle-length green Next wellies as well as a necklace and a pale blue Fitbit.

Lancashire Police Superintendent Sally Riley said: ‘I don’t wish to speculate but the facts are that  she was wearing a quilted, ankle-length gilet, which is a big coat, and underneath that there was another coat and then under that coat more clothing. 

‘She was also wearing ankle-length wellingtons. One would assume they fill with water when someone enters a river so all of that clothing is heavy, particularly on someone who is of slight build and only 5 foot three.’

Supt Riley said there were no reports of anyone in distress, no shouting or splashing, and no footprints were found on the bank. 

Police diving teams will continue to comb the river bed of the Wyre in the area close to the bench over the weekend, while the Coastguard and the RNLI will continue checking the tidal stretch out to Fleetwood and Morecombe Bay. 

Read more on MailOnline here

The mother-of-two, 45, was last seen wearing an ankle-length black quilted gilet jacket, a black Engelbert Strauss waist-length coat, tight-fitting jeans and green wellies.