It’s the mystery that has kept England in suspense for three weeks. But now it has become a political case, with the police prosecuting and the intervention of Interior Secretary Suella Braverman: Because at the center is the question of what the disappearance of a woman and her privacy look like.
The facts go back to the morning of January 27 when Nicola Bulley, a 45-year-old mother, vanished into thin air while walking her dog along the River Wyre in Lancashire: police were convinced of that from the start The woman, she fell into the water and drowned, but nobody seems to be convinced by this explanation. Certainly not the home improvement detectives who flocked in droves from across the country to help with the investigation (and ended up getting in each other’s way): and certainly not the hordes of web conspiracy theorists that have spread the most since Weeks of bizarre theories on the net.
Precisely to deal with all this shouting – and allegations of incompetence in the face of an unsolved case – Lancashire Police called a press conference on Wednesday which revealed, to everyone’s astonishment, that Nicola had “significant alcohol problems”. due to their difficulties in coping with the arrival of menopause.
The sudden withdrawal of the police caused an outcry at the political level. Conservative MP Alicia Kearns spoke of “victim accusation”, while Labor shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper called the move “very unusual” and a cause for concern: until Home Secretary Braverman herself intervened, asking investigators for explanations because he was concerned with her motivation, to put an end to the speculation, “not quite satisfied”.
Nicola’s family also spoke out to say the woman didn’t want her personal details revealed and to call for an end to the crazy theories that have dominated social media. And now the question is how will women ever trust the police in the future when their private lives are at risk of being so easily disclosed.
All this certainly does not help the investigation and the hopes of finding Nicola alive. In the latest pictures captured by the intercom camera, she can be seen loading the dog into the trunk of her car at around 8.30am on January 27 to take care of her two daughters, aged nine and six to drive to school. The woman is wearing a blue coat, leggings, knee socks and ankle boots. It’s a few minutes’ drive, because as early as 8:43 a.m. you can see her walking her dog by the river: several people notice her, most recently at 9:10 a.m. Meanwhile, she had connected to her cellphone for a work meeting on Teams at 9:01 a.m.: At 9:20 a.m. she was still connected, but just after 9:30 a.m. the dog was found alone, off leash and in an “excited state”. No sign of Nicola other than the phone left on a bench.
How a woman was able to vanish into thin air in a matter of minutes in a fairly busy area remains a mystery: investigators say they’re ruling out suspicions or “third parties” and believe Nicola fell in the water, perhaps to chase her dog or maybe to retrieve a ball she threw at him (if she didn’t threw herself). But the animal was found completely dry, with no skid marks, and friends point out that the woman was a good swimmer.
Helicopters, underwater drones and sniffer dogs have been used in the search operations that have been started so far: until a team of experienced divers joined them, which extended the screening over the entire course of the river to the open sea.
But in the meantime, keyboard detectives wreak havoc, venting the most extreme theories and focusing on Nicola’s partner and the girls’ father, Paul Ansell: web conspiracy theorists are pointing fingers at the couple’s finances and relationships as much as the friends had to intervene to demand an end to “cowardly speculation”. The man, they emphasize, was at home at the time of Nicola’s disappearance because otherwise the cameras would have recorded his departure.
But a credible explanation for how she evaporated doesn’t seem to emerge, while Nicola’s partner Paul repeatedly reiterates that “he won’t consider any other outcome” other than finding his partner alive.