A body found in a river has been identified as missing mother-of-two Nicola Bulley, police have said.
The body was found on Sunday morning in the River Wyre in Lancashire, around a mile from where the 45-year-old mortgage adviser was last seen.
Ms Bulley’s family were informed following the discovery of the body and while Lancashire Police began identification procedures.
Speaking at a press briefing at police headquarters on Monday, Assistant Chief Constable Peter Lawson confirmed the body had been identified as Ms Bulley.
“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.
“We recognise the huge impact that Nicola’s disappearance has had on her family and friends, but also on the people of St Michael’s.
“We would like to thank all of those who have helped during what has been a hugely complex and highly emotional investigation.
In a statement, Ms Bulley’s family said she was “the centre of our world” adding they would “never be able to comprehend what Nikki had gone through in her last moments and that will never leave us”.
The family said: “We will never forget Nikki, how could we, she was the centre of our world, she was the one who made our lives so special and nothing will cast a shadow over that.
“Our girls will get the support they need from the people who love them the most.”
“It saddens us to think that one day we will have to explain to them (Ms Bulley’s children) that the press and members of the public accused their dad of wrongdoing, misquoted and vilified friends and family. This is absolutely appalling, they have to be held accountable. This cannot happen to another family.
“We tried last night to take in what we had been told in the day, only to have Sky News and ITV making contact with us directly when we expressly asked for privacy. They again have taken it upon themselves to run stories about us to sell papers and increase their own profiles. It is shameful they have acted in this way. Leave us alone now.
“Do the press and other media channels and so called professionals not know when to stop? These are our lives and our children’s lives.
“To those who genuinely helped and supported us, privately, we thank you. The community support in St Michael’s, friends, neighbours and strangers has been nothing short of comforting and heart-warming. Friends you know who you are. Thank you.”
Lancashire Constabulary said officers were called to the River Wyre close to Rawcliffe Road at around 11.35am on Sunday.
“An underwater search team and specialist officers have subsequently attended the scene, entered the water and have sadly recovered a body,” a statement said.
The body was found on a stretch of the river just past a slight bend, a mile or so outside the village, close to where a tree had fallen on its side half in and half outside the water, with branches and undergrowth partially submerged.
Police had earlier erected a tent and cordoned off the lane while police divers were called in, but the road was reopened around three hours later once the body was recovered.
On Monday morning, police officers and community support officers were in the village of St Michael’s on Wyre.
The investigation into Ms Bulley’s disappearance has attracted widespread speculation as well as criticism of the police response.
In a press conference on Wednesday, they revealed the mother-of-two was classed as a “high-risk” missing person immediately after Mr Ansell reported her disappearance, “based on a number of specific vulnerabilities”.
They later added in a statement that Ms Bulley, from Inskip in Lancashire, had stopped taking her HRT medication.
A public backlash and interventions from the Government and shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper followed, with Lancashire Constabulary confirming a date had been set for an internal review into the investigation.