Police searching for Nicola Bulley have appealed for a “key” witness who they believe was in the area on the morning of the mother-of-two’s disappearance.
The witness is a woman pushing a pram on the morning of Friday January 27 when Mrs Bulley disappeared.
A Lancashire Police spokesman said: “It is believed that the woman in question may have been walking along the river path during these periods and so detectives are keen to speak to her and urge her to get in touch.”
Officers believe Mrs Bulley fell into the River Wyre while walking her dog.
However, her family and friends claimed it exists “no proof” behind the police theory.
What were the dog walker’s movements before she disappeared?
The woman was seen walking along Garstang Road / Blackpool Lane in the village of St Michael’s in Wyre, from the direction of Allotment Lane towards the Grapes pub, at around 8.22am.
He is again seen walking down Allotment Lane towards Garstang Street just under 20 minutes later at 8.41am.
It is believed the woman could be walking along the river footpath during these times – with detectives urging her to get in touch.
Anyone riding or cycling on Blackpool Lane / Garstang Lane on January 27 between 9am and 10 a.m. and has dashboard footage, he is also asked to contact the police.
The force spokesman added that it was vital to gather as much footage as possible from the area that morning to “scrutinize every bit” and establish whether Nicola can be seen.
“We know from the footage we’re currently reviewing that this is a busy road, particularly at that time of the morning,” they added.
“There will be a lot of people who were in that area at the time who may not think they can help, however we would urge you not to make that decision on your own and to come forward so we have as much material as possible to help the research .”
Critical 10 minute window
Mrs Bulley, 45, was last seen walking her dog on a footpath alongside the River Wyre in St Michael’s on Friday morning.
The police are focusing their investigation a critical 10-minute window when the mortgage advisor’s movements are not recorded between 9.10 and 9.20 am
A timeline compiled by the force found he logged into a work conference call on Microsoft Teams at 9.01am.
Nine minutes later, a witness who knows Mrs Bulley said she was seen in the upper field walking her dog, Willow, who had been away from the start.
This is the last confirmed sighting of her.
At 9.20am, police believe her phone was left on a bench by the river.
At 9.30am, the work conference call ended but she stayed connected – before her phone was found three minutes later on the counter by another dog walker.
We will never lose hope
Mrs Bulley’s partner Paul Ansell vowed to “never lose hope” on Friday, a week after he “disappeared into thin air”.
He said he was focused on supporting their daughters, aged six and nine, but added: “I don’t know how I manage.
“I don’t want to think about that.”
Friends and relatives told Sky News correspondent Katerina Vitocci it was “too early for condolences” and say they are not ready to accept the police theory that Ms Bulley fell into the river.
They have now set up a community outreach center at the village tennis club where people are invited to pick up a map of the area and try to help.
“It’s too early for condolences,” say Nicola Bulley’s friends and family
This is a small Lancashire town on a desperate search, where no one wants to stop looking.
Friends of Nicola Bulley say it is too early for condolences, that the police theory that Nicola fell into the river is not yet something they can accept.
Ms Bulley’s friend Heather Gibbons told Sky News: “As far as we know, there is no evidence of her being in that water.”
He praised the police for the “incredible” amount of resources devoted to the river, but added: “It doesn’t add up and it doesn’t add up on a huge, huge scale, which makes you think, ‘well then, there must still be hope’ , because we’re missing something, something doesn’t make sense.”
Now Mrs Bulley’s friends and family have set up a community outreach center at the village tennis club where people can come, pick up a map of the area and try to help.
Lal Kilpatrick, a research volunteer who has known the missing mother-of-two for 20 years, said she wanted to help during what she described as a “stressful time for the family”.
Meanwhile, strangers also offer their support, including Lee Ward, who has never met Mrs Bulley or her family but felt compelled to help.
“I saw it on the news, it eats at you to think what they’re going through,” Mr Ward told Sky News.
For Nicola Bulley’s friends and family, there are still far more questions than answers right now.
The police search has been extensive, covering 15km of rivers to the sea, but it’s still here, the fields where Nicola was last seen and where her phone and dog were found, continue to attract people, all with the same question – what happened that morning?
Specialists and divers from HM Coastguard, the mountain rescue service and Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service have been deployed to help the search, in addition to sniffer dogs, drones and police helicopters.
A team of detectives is working to analyze phone calls, house-to-house searches, CCTV, dash cam footage and other digital investigations, Lancashire police said.
“It’s very, very strange”
Forensic search and rescue expert Peter Faulding told Sky News he has been “mystified” by the “strange” circumstances of Ms Bulley’s disappearance.
Mr Faulding, who has worked on hundreds of cases, said the tidal nature of the River Wye had created difficulties for police during the search operation.
But he added: “I mean the phone was found, a bench; normally if someone tripped, they’d have their phone in their hands.
“You know, the dog is dry; it chases dogs, that’s why many people drown. They jump after their dogs.
“But the dog was found dry, so it clearly didn’t go into the river, and that’s what makes me suspect about this case is that it’s very, very strange.”