Missing dog walker’s parents asked police if she could have been kidnapped

Nicola Bulley was last seen on Friday morning
Nicola Bulley was last seen on Friday morning

The parents of a missing dog walker asked the police whether it was possible that she could have been kidnapped because she would never have left her children.

Nicola Bulley, a mother of two, was walking the family dog in Lancashire when she vanished on Friday morning. She was last seen at around 9.15am.

The alarm was raised when a local business owner found the springer spaniel, called Willow, running free beside the River Wyre in the village of St Michael’s on Wyre more than an hour later.

She then discovered 45-year-old Ms Bulley’s phone, which was still logged in to a conference call, on a bench in the village and recognised her from the family photo used as her background. The dog’s lead and harness were also found on the bench.

Intensive searches have been carried out since Friday, involving specialist police teams using helicopters, drones and dogs, and with support from the Coastguard, Bowland Mountain Rescue and Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service.

Missing person notices have been attached to gates in the area where Nicola Bulley disappeared - Peter Byrne/PA
Missing person notices have been attached to gates in the area where Nicola Bulley disappeared - Peter Byrne/PA

On Wednesday, Ms Bulley’s parents said they had asked police whether their daughter could have been taken.

Her father Ernest, 73, told The Mirror: “There was no sign of a slip or falling in, so our thought was ‘has somebody got her?’ I asked the sergeant from Fleetwood a few days ago ‘is there any chance of her being taken?’ She said ‘I don’t think that’s the case’.

“I said ‘how can you know that?’. It’s such an isolated area, the only way that has happened is if it was someone who knew her. We will never stop looking.”

Mr Bulley said he had last seen his daughter on Thursday when they dropped her two children off after taking care of them while she worked.

“Her mind was great,” he said, and she was “very upbeat” about bringing in a new client. He added: “I gave her a kiss and told her I loved her and that was the last conversation I had with her.”

Dorothy Bulley, 72, said her daughter “lived for her children” and had bought tickets to watch them perform at choir and gymnastics shows in recent weeks. She had also been planning a spa break with her younger sister, Louise, the night before she went missing.

Mrs Bulley said: “We find it really hard to think about wondering is she ok and where is she? You wake in the night and you can’t get back off to sleep.”

Mr Bulley, who jointly owns a freight transport company with his wife, said the family had no idea what might have happened to her.

“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,” he said.

Police have been searching the river
Police have been searching the river

The owner of the Wyreside Park Farm caravan site, which police underwater search teams are using as a base, confirmed that she had found Willow and then the mobile phone.

She told The Telegraph: “I saw the dog and recognised the dog. Then I saw the phone and knew there was a problem.”

The businesswoman told her daughter-in-law, who called Paul Ansell, Ms Bulley’s partner. He alerted police. 
The dog was reportedly “bone dry” and in an “agitated state” when found.

An abandoned house opposite the spot where Ms Bulley’s belongings were found was searched as part of the investigation.

The last person to see Ms Bulley before she went missing said she had seemed “completely normal”. The man, who has spoken to police, saw her as she began her walk at 9.15am

His wife said they would see her on the same stretch of the river most days while they exercised their dogs, telling The Times: “In the field there were about three people, including my husband. He said there was nothing unusual about her and she seemed completely normal.”

Paul Ansell, Ms Bulley’s partner, said the family were living through “perpetual hell”.

In a statement, the 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.”

Superintendent Sally Riley, of Lancashire Police, said on Tuesday: “I must stress at this time that this remains a missing person inquiry and at this time there is nothing to suggest any third-party involvement in Nicola’s disappearance.”