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A woman described as a “key witness” by police in the search for missing mother Nicola Bulley has come forward, as the force warned against “completely unacceptable” speculation and abuse on social media.
On Saturday, officers said they wanted to look for a man seen pushing a pram in the area near where the dog walker went missing.
In an update on its Facebook page, Lancashire Police said the woman came forward “very quickly”.
The force added: “We must stress that he was heavily used as a witness and was one of many people at St Michael’s on Friday 27th January.
“Our inquiries to trace Nicola are extensive and will include speaking to as many members of the public as possible
“Speculation and abuse directed at some people on social media who are only assisting our investigation is completely unacceptable.
“We would ask people to remember that we are investigating Nicola’s disappearance, and the priority is Nicola and her family. We want to find her and give her family answers.”
Police are working on the theory that Ms Bulley fell into the river, but her family and friends have questioned this.
The force believes the 45-year-old mortgage adviser disappeared in just a “10-minute window” while she was walking her dog Willow near the River Wyre, after dropping her daughters – aged six and nine – at school. .
Ms Bulley logged into a Microsoft team call at 9.01am, which ended at 9.30am with her phone still connected to the call.
He was spotted by another dog walker at 9.10am – the last known sighting – and police traced the telephony records of his mobile phone as it was on a bench overlooking the river at 9.20am.
The device was found at around 9.35pm by a dog walker, who had Willow.
Search teams from Lancashire Constabulary are trawling the river.
In a Facebook post, Ms Bulley’s sister, Louise Cunningham, urged people to “keep an open mind” as there was “no evidence” of dog walkers falling into the river.
“On the back of the latest police media update, may I please add that there is no evidence that he went into the river, it’s just a theory,” he said.
“Everyone needs to keep an open mind as all the CCTV and leads have not been fully investigated, the police have confirmed that the case is far from over.”
Ms Bulley’s friend, Emma White, also cast doubt on the police theory, telling Sky News it was based on “limited information”.
“When we talk about a life we can’t base it on a hypothesis – of course we need this real evidence,” he said.
“That’s what the family and we’re all holding on to – that we’re sadly no more than we were last Friday.
“We don’t have any evidence yet, and that’s why we’re forced out together.
“You don’t build a life based on an assumption.”
In an interview with The Sun, Ms White said police were working to obtain data from Ms Bulley’s Fitbit watch.
“The Fitbit hasn’t synced since Tuesday,” he said.
“Police are trying other ways to try to get information out of it.”
The police search was assisted by specialists and divers from HM Coastguard, Mountain Rescue, and Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service – with sniffer dogs, drones and police helicopters deployed.
Detectives are working behind the scenes to analyze CCTV and dashcam video and members of the public with footage are being urged to come forward.
Anyone with information or footage is asked to call 101, quoting log 565 of January 30.
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