A former top detective said it was possible that a third party was involved in the disappearance of Nicola Bulley, explaining 10 minutes was a big enough window for the dog walker to have been taken.
Bulley, 45, disappeared while walking her dog Willow in St.Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire, on 27 January. She was last seen walking in the area at around 9.10am, while her mobile phone and dog harness were discovered on a bench at 9.33am.
But while Lancashire Police have zoned in on the river as their main line of enquiry, former police and crime commissioner for Dorset, Martyn Underhill, said nothing could be ruled out at this stage, including the involvement of another person.
He told Yahoo News UK: “We’re getting mixed messages from the police, it’s quite clear to me that they shot down several lines of major enquiry at the beginning and that they tried to row back from that.
“The fact that you found no evidence of a third party involvement proves nothing. Until it can be disproved, it has to be held as a theory,” he continued.
“You only have to look at the Julia James case in Kent last year, we know from her fit watch that from the time she saw her attacker to the time she was fatally wounded was less than a minute.
“People can be attacked by strangers and seriously harmed and possibly carried off in a 10-minute window... I have to accept that I am not in possession of all the facts that Lancashire police are but it hasn’t been disproved to me.”
In a police press conference on Wednesday, authorities revealed that Bulley’s case had been classed as high-risk since the investigation was opened, describing “vulnerabilities” that put the mortgage broker into a high-risk category.
Later, police confirmed that Bulley had experienced issues with alcohol and menopause, prompting a furious backlash over the announcement, which Underhill himself acknowledges was an “odd” move by the authorities.
“I question why they have done that,” Underhill said of the announcement. “The disclosure made yesterday, strange though it was, doesn’t rule out the chance of a third party involvement.
“It’s extremely unusual to go into so much detail, and what message does that send to every woman on the planet who struggles with menopause, so I found the amount of detail particularly about the menopause very unusual - I can’t ever thinking of that being disclosed in a case like this before.
“And of course, if this had been disclosed on day one, it would have changed the whole dynamic, direction and coverage of this case,” he added.
Read the latest coverage on Nicola Bulley's disappearance:
Nicola Bulley's family 'devastated' as 'vulnerabilities' shared, ex-detective says (Lancashire Telegraph)
During the police press conference, police also suggested that members of the public attempting to help solve the case had, in some cases, been problematic - prompting them to issue a 48-hour dispersal order in the area last week.
But Underhill said the public had taken to the streets because police had failed to keep them informed about developments in the case.
“They [the police] spent about 20 minutes of their press conference complaining about TikTok detectives and armchair detectives for distracting from their inquiry, yet the reason they’re there is because the police haven’t filled that void,” Underhill said. “If the police don’t talk to people then other people fill that space.”