A missing mother was muted and didn’t have her camera on as she listened to a team meeting moments before she disappeared, her boss said today – as police seek a ‘key witness’ who was walking her dog when she vanished.
Nicola Bulley, 45, went missing at around 9.15am on Friday morning – with her mobile phone found on a bench near where she was last seen on a towpath by the River Wyre in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire.
Ben Pociecha, the director of Exclusively Mortgages, said Ms Bulley had logged onto a team meeting at 9.01am. ‘It seems as if she was muted and didn’t have her camera on. She was listening in whilst walking her dog,’ he told MailOnline.
‘There were numerous parties involved in this. A lot of people attended the call. The police are investigating the call.’
In November Ms Bulley posted how visibilty on her dog walk had been poor as well as spooky
Lancashire Police have said they want to speak to a man who was walking a small white fluffy dog near the River Wyre in St Michael’s on Wyre on Friday morning, the same time and area Ms Bulley went missing from.
The force said the man, who was described as around 70, white, 6ft tall and well-built, spoke to a woman in the area before walking in the direction of Rowanwater.
Ms Bulley was walking her springer spaniel Willow in the area. Her mobile phone was later found on a bench near the river while the dog was found loose between the river and bench.
Nicola’s brother-in-law Stephen Cunningham said: ‘The whole family, as expected, are struggling to understand what’s happened and worried beyond words.’
In a statement Ms Bulley’s family said: ‘We have been overwhelmed by the support from our community and would like to thank everyone for their ongoing efforts to help us find Nicola. The girls are desperate to have their mummy back home safe with them and your ongoing efforts have provided comfort to them whilst we await news on Nicola.
‘We ask for anyone who thinks they may have any information that may help the police find Nicola to please come forward and help them with their inquiries.’
The bench it is believed that Ms Bulley left her mobile phone on before she vanished on Friday
Ms Bulley and her partner Paul Ansell who today said he and the family were very worried and she has ‘two little girls that need their mummy home’
Ms Bulley had been out walking this dog, Willow, when she was reported missing on Friday
It came as a social media post emerged where Ms Bulley shared pictures of herself walking her beloved dog Willow, close to where she vanished on January 27.
In it, she said: ‘A very foggy cold walk this morning, not a day to forget your gloves! Bit spooky too! Set me up for the day though and Willow had the best time’.
Specialist search teams today combed the River Wyre, off Garstang Road in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancs., and surrounding countryside in an effort to locate the mortgage advisor.
Villagers also joined in the search for mum of two Nicola.
Mick Peter, 37, spent his lunch break searching.
He said: ‘It’s impacted on the whole community.
‘I have come out just to help.
‘This is a lovely area that is popular with dog walkers.
‘I walk my dog here every day and I always see other people out walking.
‘Someone must have seen something.
‘I hope she turns up safe.’
Lancashire Police want to speak to a man they believe was in the area at the time Nicola went missing.
He is described as white, six ft tall, well-built and aged around 70. Police said spoke to the woman who found Nicola’s dog.
A neighbour of the family said Nicola would never abandon her children.
A family neighbour said: ‘The family is extremely close-knit.
‘They are very loving and they will be in absolute pieces.
‘It’s a mystery. They just have no idea where she is.
‘We went out on the search on Sunday and she has taken the dog there loads of times but the banks of the river can be very slippery.’
She added: ‘You just don’t know do you but I do know that she would have never ever left those children voluntarily. The whole family is doting.
‘I would imagine Nicola was a doting mum. They are the loveliest people you could ever wish to meet.
‘I think everyone is devastated because she seemed the kind of girl who didn’t have a bad bone in her body.
‘She was extremely pleasant and homely. She lived for her daughters and Paul.
‘The family will be heartbroken.
‘Every week her parents go to Nicola’s and pick their grandchildren up and come back here.
‘I can’t imagine what they are going through and they just have no idea where she could be.
‘It has made us quite upset. Nicola had a nice family and a nice job and she was a lovely person.’
Police are appealing for any information about her whereabouts. Ms Bulley is described as white, 5ft 3in, with light brown shoulder-length hair.
At the time of her disappearance she was wearing a long black gilet jacket with a hood, black jeans and olive green ankle wellington boots. Her hair was in a ponytail.
Willow was found by a local and Ms Bulley’s phone was discovered with a dog lead on a bench.
In an update on Monday, police said they are keeping an ‘open mind’ about what happened but do not believe Ms Bulley was attacked.
The dog, springer spaniel Willow, was found loose between the river and bench.
Ms Bulley’s partner Paul Ansell, speaking from the family home in Inskip, Lancashire, said he spent all of Sunday searching for the mother-of-two.
The engineer, who has been in a relationship with Ms Bulley for 12 years, said: ‘It is just perpetual hell. It is just utter disbelief.
‘We are living through this but it doesn’t feel real.
Police search a bank alongside the River Wyre close to where missing the missing mother of two was last seen on Friday morning
Police are searching for the missing mother and are concerned as to her whereabouts
‘All we can say is we need to find her. She’s got two little girls that need their mummy home.
‘We have got to get some good news now.’
Mr Ansell said he or Ms Bulley, also known as Nikki, would drop the children, aged nine and six, off at a local primary school before taking Willow for a walk along the river nearby.
Ms Bulley did the school run before heading for the dog walk on Friday, police indicated.
‘I got a call from the school regarding somebody who had found Willow, Nikki’s phone and the dog lead and harness on the bench,’ Mr Ansell, who then called the police, said.
‘We take the kids to school and take the dog down there – either myself or Nikki – nearly every day.’
Ms Bulley, a mortgage adviser, has lived in Lancashire for 25 years but is originally from near Chelmsford, Essex, and has a southern accent.
She was last seen by a member of the public at about 9.15am, police said.
Superintendent Sally Riley from Lancashire Police told the Mirror that Ms Bulley’s phone was still on an active call when it was found: ‘It was on a meeting call, and that was still live. It was connected to the conference call and that hadn’t been terminated.’
The officer told a press conference that fears for Ms Bulley are growing as time passes.
She said: ‘The police are keeping a really open mind about what could have happened but we do believe that the likelihood is that Nicola has gone missing and this is not a crime inquiry.
‘We’ve mounted a really intensive operation to try to find Nicola.
‘We’ve got a large area to search.
‘People do go missing but clearly as time goes on we become more and more concerned for Nicola.
‘But we’re very much hoping that we will find something to try to bring her home safe and well soon.
‘We appeal for anyone who may have been driving through the village of St Michael’s last Friday morning at about 9.15am or who may have dashcam footage that could be of use to us, or people who may have been dog-walking in the area or on the tow path, to come forward.
‘They can ring 101 or, if they have a sighting of Nicola, 999.’
Searches have been carried out by Lancashire Police, using a helicopter, drones and dogs with support from Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, Bowland Pennine Mountain Rescue team and the North West Underwater Search Team.
Locals have also organised searches in the area.
- Anybody with information can call 101, quoting log 473 of January 27, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.