Police searching for missing UK mother Nicola Bulley find a body

Nicola Bulley went missing on the morning of Friday, January 27.
Nicola Bulley went missing on the morning of Friday, January 27. Photo credit: Supplied / Lancashire Police

Police searching for missing UK mom Nicola Bulley said Sunday they had found a body.

A body was recovered from a river near where Bulley went missing in the northern English village of St. Michael's on Wyre, Lancashire Police said. The body has yet to be formally identified, but Bulley's family has been informed of the discovery.

"We were called today at 11:36am to reports of a body in the River Wyre, close to Rawcliffe Road," a police statement read.

"An underwater search team and specialist officers have subsequently attended the scene, entered the water and have sadly recovered a body.

"Nicola's family have been informed of developments and our thoughts are with them at this most difficult of times. We ask that their privacy is respected."

Bulley, who worked as a mortgage adviser, went missing on the morning of Friday, January 27. Police say she was walking her dog after dropping her two children off at school.

A short while later, her dog was found wandering alone and her phone spotted on a bench next to the river, still logged into a group work call. But for three weeks, the search launched by Lancashire Police for the 45-year-old mother of two drew a blank.

The case baffled the public and attracted widespread media attention, with police also -- unusually -- choosing to reveal that Bulley had been struggling with alcohol issues and menopause at the time of her disappearance.

Last week saw investigators sharply criticize members of the public they said were pedaling "persistent myths."

Lancashire Police Detective Superintendent Rebecca Smith told journalists on Wednesday that the social media frenzy had "significantly distracted" the investigation. "In 29 years' police service, I've never seen anything like it.

"Some of it's been quite shocking and really hurtful to the family. Obviously, we can't disregard anything, and we've reviewed everything that's come in but of course it has distracted us significantly."

Lancashire Police's decision to reveal personal details about Bulley sparked widespread criticism, with many accusing the force of sexism. Even the government slammed the police, with Home Secretary Suella Braverman raising concerns over its handling of the case.

Stephanie Benyon, a friend of Bulley's whose children attend the same school, previously told CNN that she is a "kind, loyal and thoughtful person who adores her two girls and family and friends." Bulley's partner of 12 years, Paul Ansell, had described the situation as a "perpetual hell."