"We will never forget Nikki, how could we, she was the center of our world," her family said in a statement.
Editor's note: This article contains themes of grief that some readers may find distressing
Nicola Bulley, a 45-year-old mother of two, whose unexplained disappearance from a small village in Northwest England last month gripped the country, was found dead on February 19, according to British authorities, the Washington Post reported. At a press conference, Peter Lawson, the assistant chief constable for Lancashire police, reportedly said, per CBS News, "Sadly we are now able to confirm that yesterday we recovered Nicola Bulley from the River Wyre."
After dropping off her daughters at school on the morning of January 27, Bulley vanished while walking her dog along a nearby river. Bulley's cell phone was discovered on a park seat beside the river while still connected to a conference call at her place of business as a mortgage broker.
Sadly, we are now able to confirm that yesterday we recovered Nicola Bulley from the River Wyre.— Lancashire Police (@LancsPolice) February 20, 2023
Nicola’s family have been informed and are of course devastated. Our thoughts are with them at this time as well as with all her loved ones and the wider community. pic.twitter.com/7L522NiHHS
At the news conference on February 20, police read aloud a statement from Bulley's family that perfectly expresses the anguish and frustration that her loved ones had felt ever since she vanished, per PEOPLE. "We will never forget Nikki, how could we, she was the center of our world, she was the one who made our lives so special and nothing will cast a shadow over that," the family wrote.
"Our girls will get the support they need from the people who love them the most," the statement continued. "And it saddens us to think that one day we will have to explain to them that the press and members of the public accused their dad of wrongdoing, misquoted and vilified friends and family … Finally, Nikki, you are no longer a missing person, you have been found, we can let you rest now," they concluded.
After Caroline Flack took her own life everyone incl journalists said, “we need to be kinder” — and here we are again invading the privacy of Nicola Bulley so the media can churn out clickbait for profit. It doesn’t matter who gets hurt. It won’t change.https://t.co/Wi258l0Ekm— Dr Charlotte Proudman (@DrProudman) February 20, 2023
The mishandling of the investigation led to a media frenzy that resulted in criticism of how the police handled the search, with dozens of amateur detectives prowling through Bulley's hometown of St. Michael's on Wyre, per The Guardian. More than 40 detectives were working on the case when her body was found by two dog walkers less than a mile from where Bulley went missing. Police were also accused of letting private details about the mom come into the public domain.
Investigators had long assumed that she had fallen into the river by her own fault, but when divers were unable to find the missing mother, a horde of social media influencers arrived in her community and began nudging locals and the police to search for evidence properly.
"They again have taken it upon themselves to run stories about us... to increase their own profits... leave us alone now"— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) February 20, 2023
Family of Nicola Bulley condemn "shameful" behaviour of media outlets that ignored their requests for privacyhttps://t.co/Nk9r1G6EAg pic.twitter.com/jwSzC9nFrH
On Friday, Lancashire police were criticized for disclosing sensitive information about Bulley in a manner that was “as sexist as it comes.” The force's “dreadful” choice to release Bulley's medical records was denounced by former victims’ Commissioner Dame Vera Baird as being “the biggest error that I have seen for quite a long time”. After the police revealed that Bulley, 45, had "major issues with alcohol," brought on by menopause, the media ran the story constantly. This put the Lancashire police under considerable fire, per The Guardian.
Cover Image Source: Twitter | @LancsPolice