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03rd Feb 2023

Missing mum Nicola Bulley’s final text before ‘vanishing into thin air’

Steve Hopkins

‘You wouldn’t have done that if you were going to get up and go missing’

Nicola Bulley booked a playdate with a friend in her final text minutes before she disappeared, reports claimed on Friday a week after the mother-of-two went missing.

The mortgage adviser sent the text at 8.57am just before logging onto a Teams call while she walked her dog, a brown cocker spaniel called Willow, along the River Wyre in Lancashire, locals were told at a village meeting.

The 45-year-old was last seen at 9.10am. Some 25 minutes later her phone, still logged on to the call, but muted, and dog lead were found on a riverside bench.

A resident of St Michael’s on Wyre told the Mirror: “She booked a playdate, 8.57, she sent a text message to a friend whose mortgage she had just recently signed off on to arrange for the girls to go for tea this week.”

The local , who did not want to be named, suggested the text was further evidence Nicola had no intention of voluntarily disappearing: “You wouldn’t have done that if you were going to get up and go missing.”

In an interview with Sky News, Howard Millington, a former police detective with a 30-year career at Greater Manchester Police, called the case “very unusual” and “very concerning”.

“It will have been quickly escalated, I’ve no doubt. Lancashire Police have spared no expense in resourcing this properly.”

On Thursday, police issued a public appeal for a woman seen in CCTV wearing a red coat on River Wyre around the time Nicola vanished.

MailOnline reported Friday that the woman, 67-year-old Christine Bowman, told police she did not see Nicola during her walk with her own dog, Snowflake.

She told the publisher she was confused by the police appealing for her to come forward, as she had already spoken to them, and didn’t know anything.

Bowman, a retired teacher told The Mirror, Nicola’s disappearance had made “local women fearful”.

“If they have husbands or partners, they have been taking the dogs out instead,” she said.

As the investigation extends into an eighth day, a source from St Michael’s Angling Association revealed that the stretch of river where Nicola vanished is notorious and “very dangerous”, with a depth of about 15ft.

“The combination of the depth and how cold it is at this time of year makes it very dangerous,” he told The Times.

“I certainly would not want to fall in there and I’m a very strong swimmer.”

Specialist police divers have been searching the riverbed for clues.

On Thursday, Nicola’s sister, Louise Cunningham made a heartfelt plea, saying she needed to “get my sister back”.

“Something has got to have been missed. Somebody must know something. People don’t just vanish into thin air.

“There has got to be somebody who knows something and all we are asking is, no matter how small or big, if there is anything you remember that doesn’t seem right, then please reach out to the police. Get in touch and get my sister back.”

Cunningham said her family felt they were “stuck in a nightmare”.

“We’re going round in circles to piece together what happened. We’ve got to keep an open mind,” she told ITV News.

“We have no idea where she is. There’s no evidence to point us in any direction.

“My hope is that she’s still out there. We just want her home. Her children need her home. It’s heartbreaking. We’re such a close knit family, we’d do anything for any one of us.

“Somebody must know something, people don’t just vanish. If there’s anything you might have seen, please get in touch with the police.”

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