Missing mother vanished on footpath leaving dog behind and phone still connected to work call
'She’s got two little girls that need their mummy home'
A mother-of-two missing since Friday was still connected to a work call when her phone was found on a bench near a towpath in Lancashire where she was walking her dog.
Nicola Bulley was last seen walking next to the River Wyre off Garstang Road, in St Michael's on Wyre, at about 9.15 am.
An alarm was raised when the 45-year-old's brown cocker spaniel, Willow, was found walking around off its lead about an hour later.
Police have revealed Nicola's phone was still connected to a work conference call when it was found next to a dog lead and harness. The camera was off and she was muted.
Police said they are keeping an “open mind” about what happened, but do not believe Nicola, a mortgage adviser who has lived in Lancashire for 25 years, was attacked.
They are now seeking a "key witness", a man, aged about 70, who was seen walking a small white fluffy dog in the area at the time Nicola disappeared.
The man, who was described as 6ft (1.8m) and well built, "spoke to the woman in the area who found Nicola's dog near a bench in the field", Lancashire Police said in a statement.
"If this is you, or if you know who this could be, please get in touch," the force urged.
Friends of Nicola have joined the search for her - along with police, the fire service and mountain rescue - and, one, Emma White, has described the situation as "a nightmare".
Superintendent Sally Riley from Lancashire Police told a press conference that fears for Nicola 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."
On Monday Nicola's partner of 12 years, Paul Ansell, said it was "perpetual hell" for her family, the BBC reported.
"We are living through this but it doesn't feel real."
“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.”
Nicola was last seen wearing a long, black gilet jacket with a hood, black jeans and olive green ankle wellies.
Her light brown shoulder-length hair was tied into a ponytail when she was last seen and police have described her as white and 5ft 3 ins.
- Dog walker killed in Surrey attack died from ‘multiple penetrating bites to the neck’
- Princess Diana's former aide Paul Burrell reveals his cancer diagnosis
- Police special operations unit seize mother's e-scooter after she took child to school on it