Women are fearful of going out in the village where dog walker Nicola Bulley vanished a week ago, a potential witness traced by police has said.
Christine Bowman, 67, had been identified as a dog walker who may have been one of the last people to see Ms Bulley before her disappearance last Friday morning as she walked her dog near the River Wyre in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire.
She added: “It has made local women fearful. If they have husbands or partners, they have been taking the dogs out instead.”
Lancashire Police, who have launched a huge search operation, said that despite “unanswered questions”, people should not “speculate or spread false rumours” about the disappearance.
Her mobile phone and the lead and harness for her dog, springer spaniel Willow, were found on a bench close to the River Wyre in St Michael’s on Wyre in the Lancashire countryside.
Ms Bulley’s partner, engineer Paul Ansell, her parents and sister have pleaded for information.
“Somebody must know something.
“People don’t just vanish into thin air.”
He told Sky: “There are two young children there waiting for their mummy to come back and we want her back obviously also, but if Nicola is out there, if she’s watching this, then all we’d like to say is: ‘Come home, contact the police, contact ourselves and we just want you back.’
“And they know that mummy’s missing but they know that she’s going to be coming home and everyone is looking for her, so it’s only a matter of time, that they’re thinking in their minds that she’s going to walk through that door.”
Police divers using specialist equipment have been seen searching the River Wyre below where Ms Bulley’s items were found on the bench.
Ms Bulley’s partner, Paul Ansell, said earlier this week the family were living in “perpetual hell”.
Police say Ms Bulley was last seen at 9.10am last Friday while walking her dog, and she had logged on to a work Teams call, which ended at 9.30am with her still logged on.
Ms Bulley and her family are originally from Essex but moved to Lancashire around 25 years ago.
Lancashire Police have said they do not believe any crime has been committed and are treating the incident as a missing person inquiry.