Wanted posters for Nicola Bulley.
On a chilly January morning, a mother dropped her two young daughters off at school before taking her springer spaniel for her usual walk along the river.
Mortgage broker Nicola Bulley waved at other people walking dogs as she took a path along the River Wyre in Lancashire, northern England, police believe.
During the walk, he participated in a work conference call, though he kept his camera off and his microphone muted.
By 9:30 a.m., the Teams call had ended, but Bulley was still connected.
A short time later, their dog Willow was found wandering alone.
Her phone was found on a bench by the river.
But Bulley was gone.
The 45-year-old woman went missing in the village of St. Michael's on the Wyre on Friday, January 27.
She has not been seen or heard from since.
Stephanie Benyon, a friend of Bulley's whose children attend the same school, told CNN that she is a "kind, loyal and caring person who adores her two daughters, her family and her friends."
A search party launched by Lancashire Police involving specialist resources is now in its eighth day.
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Agents say they do not believe her disappearance is suspicious and that people "should not speculate or spread false rumours."
However, this has done little to assuage public concern, as some local women fear going out into the town where Bulley disappeared, Britain's Daily Mirror tabloid reported.
The case also comes at a time of heightened mistrust of police, after former London Metropolitan Police officer David Carrick recently admitted to a litany of sexual assaults on women, prompting calls for an investigation into the UK's largest police service.
Emergency teams rake the river in search of Nicola Bulley.
Reconstructing his last steps
Other people walking their dogs that morning were the last to see Bulley before he disappeared, and there appeared to be nothing unusual about his attitude.
According to Lancashire Police Superintendent Sally Riley, Bulley was familiar with the area and used to do the same walk.
A friend of Bulley's told the Mirror that she had spoken to two dog walkers who had seen Bulley that day, and who said she had been "laughing and joking" with them as she walked by.
She was seen by a dog walker in a field with Willow around
, police said.
, Bulley sent an email to his boss.
He entered the Teams work call at
“It was normal behavior for Nicola,” Superintendent Wiley said at a news conference Friday afternoon.
Her last confirmed sighting was at
, when another dog walker known to Bulley spotted her walking Willow in Upper Field.
Police believe his phone was on the bench near the riverbank at
after tracing the phone records.
The work call ended 10 minutes later, at
A passerby found the phone at around
It was still connected to the conference call.
His dog was found loose between the field gate and the bench.
Lancashire Police confirmed to CNN that the dog was dry and he did not appear to have entered the water.
Bulley's partner of 12 years, Paul Ansell, rushed to the scene after receiving a call from his daughters' school that the family dog had been found, Bulley's friend told the Mirror.
She quickly called the police.
During Friday's press conference, Superintendent Riley said officers were "particularly interested" in the time between placing the phone in the bank at
and retrieving the device 10 minutes later.
“We only have a 10-minute window in which we cannot account for Nicola's movements,” he said.
a desperate search
Using underwater drones, divers have been raking the entire River Wyre.
On the ground, the search for Bulley continues, with officers using police dogs specially trained for the task.
Amid growing speculation and local safety concerns, Superintendent Riley told the news conference that his "leading working hypothesis" was that Bulley had fallen into the river.
“The research team has carried out a series of security camera sequences, and collation of images of the doors of houses.
This has allowed us to rule out any idea that Nicola left the riverbank, which is really important," she added.
“We believe that Nicola was in the waterfront and stayed in the waterfront.
We remain open to any questions that may lead us to question that idea, but at this time we know that she was by the river."
The police are looking for Nicola Bulley.
However, Bulley's family is not satisfied with the police's theory.
In a Facebook post, her sister Louise Cunningham insisted the case was "far from over".
“As of the latest update to the media from the police, I can add that there is no evidence whatsoever that she went to the river, it is just a theory.
Everyone should keep an open mind, as not all security cameras and leads have been thoroughly investigated, and the police confirmed that the case is far from over,” she wrote.
Meanwhile, concerned locals eager to assist in the search operation have been taking part in organized walks.
Benyon told CNN that the local community had banded together to help find her: "We've organized walks around the river from St Michaels to Knott End for the community to follow.
Today [Friday] we have been standing on the main street asking for witnesses with banners."
“We are desperately trying to find Nikki to bring her home to her family and friends who love her very much,” he said.
Superintendent Riley acknowledged that there is a high level of concern in the local community.
"However, parts of the riverbank are treacherous, and we ask that no one is put in danger and that the efforts of the police to find Nicola are not jeopardized," he said.
"People don't vanish into thin air"
Bulley's family has urged anyone who may have information to come forward.
“Something has to be slipping.
Someone else must know something.
People don't just vanish into thin air,” her sister, Louise Cunningham, said in a recent interview with Sky News.
"There has to be someone who knows something and all we're asking is that no matter how big or small, if there's something that someone remembers that doesn't look right, please contact the police," he added.
A statement issued by Bulley's family said her two daughters, aged six and nine, are "desperate" to get their mother back.
Bulley's partner, Ansell, described the situation as "perpetual hell".
“We are living this situation, but it does not feel real.
All we can say is that we need to find her.
She has two little girls who need her mom at home,” she said, according to PA Media.
“We're never, ever going to give up hope, of course not, but it's like she's vanished into thin air.
She is crazy,” the UK news agency said.