Nicola Bulley’s partner today declared ‘something happened that day’ as he described his family’s ‘unprecedented hell’ as the search for the missing mother hits the two-week mark.
Paul Ansell said he is ‘100 percent’ the mortgage advisor, 45, did not fall in the River Wyre in Lancashire, as police believe.
In a statement released on Friday, police said they are keeping an ‘open mind’ about her disappearance, and in a marked softening of their language said they still believe the missing mother ‘may have’ fallen into the river.
Speaking to 5 News’s Dan Walker as part of a special programme to be aired at 9pm otnight, he vowed to ‘never let go’, adding: ‘Nikki would never give up on us ever. She wouldn’t give up on anybody. And we’re not gonna ever give up on her like, we’re going to find her.’
Mr Ansell said: ‘People don’t just vanish into thin air, it’s absolutely impossible. So something has happened. Something has happened. Find out what it is. Find out what it is.
Paul Ansell, right, pictured with his partner Nicola Bulley – who vanished two weeks ago while walking her dog near the River Wyre in Lancashire
Mr Ansell today declared ‘something happened that day’ as the search for the missing mother hits the two-week mark. He is pictured walking with Dan Walker and Willow the dog
‘There has to be a way to find out what happened, there has to be. You cannot, you cannot walk your dog down a river and just vanish into thin air. Something happened that day.’
Police had been focussing on a stretch of river close to the spot Ms Bulley disappeared at, but have now moved river searches down-river and towards the sea.
Describing the impact the disappearance has had on his children as part, Mr Ansell said: ‘What any parent knows you know, that all you wanna to do is make everything better for your children isn’t it… and I can’t you know, I can’t do that.
‘The only thing, the only thing that I can do is tell them that everybody is looking for mummy. The best people like, in the world are looking for mummy, just to give them that, you know, that level of hope that they can understand that everything that can be done to find mummy, is being done.’
He added: ‘It just doesn’t feel real… I feel like I’m in the Truman show. Like.. I honestly believe I’m going to wake up at any moment…how are we even in this? We are good people.’
In a clip released prior to the release of the full programme to be shown at 9pm tonight, Mr Ansell said: ‘For me, personally, this is just my opinion, I’m 100 percent convinced it’s not the river.
‘People don’t just vanish into thin air. It’s impossible. So something has happened. Something has happened. Find out what it is.
‘Find out what it is. My plea now is personally I want every house, every garage every outbuilding, the land scrutinised.
‘I want it all searched, I want it all scrutinised, and I’m just pleading with them to just please anything, anything, no matter how tiny just vcome foreward with it because that could be the key to finding her.
‘As a family, we’re not bothered about anything else. We just want to find her.’
Lancashire Police released a statement on Friday saying they are keeping an ‘open mind’ about Ms Bulley’s disappearance, but they added ‘there is absolutely nothing in all the extensive enquiries we have made that suggests anything untoward has happened.’
It read: ‘Throughout this investigation we have been keeping an open mind about what might have happened to Nicola, and we continue to look at all the potential scenarios to eliminate them. We are reviewing our decisions regularly.
‘Based on all the work we have done up to now our belief remains that Nicola may have fallen into the river for some reason, but we are continuing to investigate all possible leads, and this involves viewing CCTV, Dashcam footage and speaking to people who are providing us with information.
‘It remains the case that at the present time there is absolutely nothing in all the extensive enquiries we have made that suggests anything untoward has happened or that there is any third-party involvement in Nicola’s disappearance, but the investigation is ongoing.’
The force added: ‘Our priority throughout this investigation has been on finding Nicola and providing answers for her family. They continue to be supported and regularly updated by specially trained officers.’
Mr Ansell, accompanied by Nicola’s beloved spring spaniel Willow, was interviewed by 5 News’s Dan Walker (right)
Mr Ansell’s full interview will appear on ‘Vanished: What’s happened to Nicola Bulley’ at 9pm on Channel 5 tonight
Lancashire Police’s working hypothesis has long been that Ms Bulley (pictured with her partner) ended up in the water after she mysteriously vanished from St Michael’s on Wyre on January 27
A police Search and Rescue team in Knott End-on-Sea, Lancashire, on the southern side of Morecambe Bay, as police continue their search for Nicola Bulley
A police Search and Rescue team in Knott End-on-Sea, Lancashire, on the southern side of Morecambe Bay this morning
An RNLI lifeboat was deployed on the water earlier today in the hunt for the missing mother
Search teams in a dinghy were out on the water this morning looking for the missing mother
‘That’s exactly what it is, it’s an agonising wait, it’s almost a hell above hell, because the unknown is unbearable.
‘So, this morning at 10 o’clock we just opened the church for people to come and to light a candle, just to have a chance to come, a space to collect their thoughts, to be together.
‘It’s not a vigil in that we’ve lost hope, it’s almost trying to create that moment of hope for everybody to keep supporting one another.
‘We just needed a space to be able to think and pray and collect our thoughts for the family and for Nikki.
‘There’s been a lovely little turnout of people who just wanted to come and have that moment.
‘The family are on the worst rollercoaster of their lives, they are still holding on to hope, that there’s a chance we will get Nikki home safe.
A Nicola Bulley candlelit vigil is being held today in the local church as the hunt continues
Friends of missing Nicola Bulley hold missing person appeal posters along the main road in the village in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire
The 45-year-old mother-of-two was last seen on January 27. Today her friends and family took to the street in a desperate hope to try and ‘jog the memory’ of anyone who may have seen her
‘They have the same thinking that nothing is making sense. They are just desperate for some evidence that will pinpoint exactly what has happened.’
Ms Bulley vanished while walking her springer spaniel dog Willow, alongside the River Wyre in St Michael’s on Wyre on January 27.
She had dropped off her daughters, aged six and nine, at school and was on her usual walk when she disappeared, her phone – still connected to a call for her job as a mortgage advisor – was found on a bench overlooking the river.
Despite a huge search of the river and surrounding countryside by Lancashire Police, no trace of her has been found.
The force has discounted foul play and are treating the incident as a missing person enquiry, believing that Ms Bulley has fallen into the water.
But police say they are still keeping an ‘open mind’ and appealing for information.
Mrs Gibbons added: ‘At the moment the police have been clear as to what their working hypothesis is, but it is exactly that, it is a hypothesis.
‘I have spoken to police along with other friends and family and they have made it clear all avenues are still open.
‘They are encouraging everyone to keep open-minded, the words were, they have not got their blinkers on.
‘We are hopeful, we’re still holding on to hope.’
The group home someone will have seen her alive
People are being urged to call police if they have any dashcam footage from the time she vanished
Ms Bulley, 45, was last seen two weeks ago on the morning of Friday January 27, when she was spotted walking her dog on a footpath by the nearby River Wyre
Friends of missing woman Nicola Bulley hold missing person appeal posters along the main road in the village in St Michael’s on Wyre
Focus of the police search on Thursday switched from St Michael’s to around 10 miles downstream where the river empties into the sea at Morecambe Bay, with police patrol boats and rescue boats spotted on the river and in the bay.
It came as a diving expert – who led the hunt for the missing mother – claimed he has video ‘proof’ she did not fall into the river.
The mother-of-two, 45, vanished while walking her dog Willow, at around 9.10am on January 27.
Detectives believe she slipped into the River Wyre and drowned. But her loved ones have questioned this theory, saying there is ‘no evidence whatsoever‘ she fell into the body of water.
World-renowned forensic diving expert Peter Faulding – who has worked on hundreds of cases with police – says a clip shows the river is slow-moving meaning her body would have sunk ‘very quickly’ and remained near to where she fell in.
The 60-year-old also claimed she could have simply ‘stood up’ if she had fallen in as rocks by the bank would have only been under 2ft of water at the time.
Ms Bulley pictured with her dog Willow during a walk. She was walking her pet when she went missing two weeks ago
Peter Faulding, a diving expert, was drafted in to help find Ms Bulley and has today insisted a video showing the slow-moving waters of the River Wyre ‘proves’ she could not have fallen in
Speaking of the video footage, Mr Faulding added: ‘The log stayed at that point for 20 minutes, and it actually spiralled and went up six feet and came back to the same place.
‘The river on the day was slightly higher – it was about a foot higher – but I’d be very surprised in my experience [if she was there] as a body usually goes to the bottom very quickly.
‘If Nicola slipped down the bank, she would have landed in about 2ft of water but onto rocks, and she could have stood up.’
Peter, who runs Specialist Group International (SGI), led a sonar search for the Nicola in the river, which flows from the Forest of Bowland to Fleetwood and into the Irish sea.
But the group later called off its search, with the expert insisting they had done all they can to find the missing mother.
Mr Faulding has now called on the force to carry out a ‘wider land search’ of outbuildings and sheds.
On Wednesday, Peter took Nicola’s shattered partner Paul Ansell to the bench where their dog, and her mobile phone, were found on the day she vanished.
And the diving professional, who has solved hundreds of cases, said Paul now believes ‘Nicola has not gone in that river’ 13 days after she was last seen.
But the lack of a body raised hopes that she might still be alive.
A clip revealing a barely-moving log on the water, shows Nicola’s body would have likely sunk ‘very quickly’ and remained nearby if she’d gone in, forensic dive expert Mr Faulding claims
He said: ‘He’s very upset and he was in tears yesterday. He’s very emotional, obviously.
‘He was shocked at how shallow the rocks were yesterday. He thought it was really deep there. If she had gone in she would have landed on the rocks.
‘The family thanked us for being here. They said “You’ve given us confidence now” and his belief is that Nicola has not gone in that river.’
Peter added: ‘We’ve gone about a mile upstream, which is way up the search area, and ruled there is nothing in that section of the river.
‘If you start putting the pieces of the jigsaw together, it’s very strange, and it would need an extremely strong current on the day to take her so quickly over the weir before the police arrived.
‘And if she was floating, she would have been seen by the public, or landed elsewhere – and there’s just no sign of this poor lady.’
Lancashire Police is still working under the hypothesis the mortgage advisor slipped into the water and drowned.
Two boats with specialist police teams are now searching the coast off Morecambe Bay, around 20 miles from where Nicola was last seen, with police suggesting finding her ‘in the open sea becomes more of a possibility’.
This week it emerged Investigators could be trying to trace a ‘tatty’ red van parked near to where the mother-of-two vanished two weeks ago, after a witness reported it to police on two occasions.
Detectives are also probing a two-hour gap between Nicola’s disappearance and the first call to police to report her missing – as it emerged three key CCTV blindspots had been identified.
The first call about her disappearance did not come until 11am – leaving a near two-hour window between her last sighting and officers beginning their search.
Police admitted she could have left the area via a path not covered by cameras.
A map of the area showing the location of the broken camera, the path leading to Garstang Road that is not covered by CCTV (top right circle) and a riverside path leading from the Wyreside Farm Caravan Park through to the A586 (left circle)
This is the area police have been searching for almost a fortnight but there is no sign of Ms Bulley
A group of men from Liverpool were apparently dispersed by police as they tried to search this property
The path in question leads to Garstang Road, which runs through the village, and is therefore a blindspot.
Officers have been attempting to trace dashcam footage from 700 drivers who passed along the route at the time of her disappearance.
Aside from the river itself, there are only two other exits from the area, one of which is covered by CCTV.
Friends of the missing mother have claimed that CCTV covering the other exit, close to mobile home site Rowanwater, is not working.
This camera would have covered the fields to the south of where Ms Bulley was last seen.
After reviewing other CCTV footage from within the mobile home site, police are confident that Nicola did not leave the field near the river via Rowanwater itself.
Another blindspot is a riverside path leading from the Wyreside Farm Caravan Park through to the A586.
Police officers walk past the bench where Ms Bulley’s phone was found shortly after her disappearance
Paul Ansell, 44, pictured with diving expert Peter Faulding, who told the anxious father ‘she’s not here’, during a third extensive day of searching along the River Wyre in Lancashire on Wednesday
A camera at a house close to the path is also understood to have not been working at the time, but did not cover the exit regardless.
Today it emerged that a private security firm had started patrolling the village where Ms Bulley went missing to stop amateur sleuths from making TikTok videos as they try to solve the investigation.
Spencer Sutcliffe Security are carrying out daily and nightly patrols in St Michael’s on Wyre after an influx of people from outside the village descended on the area.
Several people have already been confronted by the uniformed security guards from the Lancaster based company.
The security guard owner – who is providing his services for free – said: ‘When the residents rang me I thought what an awful situation.
‘They’ve already got the horror of what’s happened, plus nobody knows what’s happened and then they’ve got all these people trampling through their gardens, going through their sheds.
A police Search and Rescue team retrieve their boat after searching the banks of the River Wyre
‘When they’re approached by some of the residents they’re becoming very aggressive towards them and it’s just not nice.
‘So I’ve offered our services for free, I’ll pay the staff out of my own pocket, and we’re just going to try and give the residents a bit of reassurance that there’s people out there looking after them, and work alongside the police – we’re not trying to replace them in anyway, but unfortunately, the police are understaffed and underfunded.’
Nicola is white, 5ft 3ins tall, with light brown shoulder-length hair. She speaks with an Essex accent.
She was last seen wearing a long, knee-length black quilted gilet with a hood.
She had a black Engelbert Strauss coat underneath which had long sleeves and came to her waist.
She was wearing tight black jeans and had long green walking socks tucked into her jeans. She was wearing size 5 ankle-length green wellington boots from Next.
Paul Ansell’s full interview will appear tonight on ‘Vanished: What’s happened to Nicola Bulley’ at 9pm on Channel 5.