Police searching for missing U.K. mom Nicola Bulley said Sunday they had found a body.
A body was recovered from the River Wyre close to where Bulley went missing, Lancashire Police said. The body has not yet been formally identified, but Bulley’s family has been informed.
“We were called today at 11:36am to reports of a body in the River Wyre, close to Rawcliffe Road,” a police statement read.
“An underwater search team and specialist officers have subsequently attended the scene, entered the water and have sadly recovered a body.
“Nicola’s family have been informed of developments and our thoughts are with them at this most difficult of times. We ask that their privacy is respected.”
Bulley went missing in the village of St. Michael’s on Wyre on the morning of Friday, January 27. Police say she was walking her dog after dropping her two children off at school.
A short while later, her dog was found wandering alone and her phone spotted on a bench next to the river, still logged into a group work call. But for three weeks, the search launched by Lancashire Police for the 45-year-old mother of two drew a blank.
The case baffled the public and attracted widespread media attention, with police also — unusually — choosing to reveal that Bulley had been struggling with alcohol issues and menopause at the time of her disappearance.
Last week saw investigators sharply criticize members of the public they say are pedaling “persistent myths.”
Lancashire Police Detective Superintendent Rebecca Smith told journalists on Wednesday that the social media frenzy had “significantly distracted” the investigation. “In 29 years’ police service, I’ve never seen anything like it.
“Some of it’s been quite shocking and really hurtful to the family. Obviously, we can’t disregard anything, and we’ve reviewed everything that’s come in but of course it has distracted us significantly.”
Lancashire police itself came under fire for its decision to reveal personal details about Bulley, starting with Smith’s comments at a press conference on Wednesday: “As soon as she was reported missing, following the information that was provided to the police by her partner, Paul, and based on a number of specific vulnerabilities that we were made aware of, Nicola was graded as high risk.”
Police later that evening clarified that she had “in the past suffered with some significant issues with alcohol” in struggles which had “resurfaced over recent months” as she went through menopause.