Nicola Bulley – a British woman whose missing person case triggered feverish conspiracy theories and criticism of the police investigation – died from drowning after she accidentally fell into cold water in January, UK’s PA Media reported.
A senior coroner for Lancashire, James Adeley, said Bulley suffered “cold water shock,” and ruled out suicide as a cause of death.
The 45-year-old mortgage adviser went missing on the morning of Friday, January 27, in the northern English village of St. Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire Police said. She was walking her dog after dropping her two children off at school.
Weeks later, her body was recovered from the River Wyre. Police insisted throughout the investigation that there was no evidence to suggest third-party involvement and their main working hypothesis remained that she fell into the river.
The case caught the attention of the UK public and media, after Bulley’s dog was found wandering alone and her phone spotted on a bench next to the river. It was still logged into a group work call.
Lancashire Police drew accusations of sexism for their handling of the case, after they chose to disclose Bulley’s struggles with alcohol and the menopause at the time of her disappearance.
Investigators at the time fiercely condemned members of the public for posting unfounded claims on social media, which police said interrupted the investigation.
On Tuesday, Bulley’s family said they still receive “negative” messages and continue to see “wildly inaccurate speculation” on various social media platforms, according to PA Media.
“The last few months have been extremely tough to process for our family. The emotional impact will stay long in our hearts and whilst we will never forget the loss of our Nikki, we will forever remember her as a brilliant mum, partner, daughter and sister that we all knew and loved so very much,” the family’s lawyer, Terry Wilcox, said in a statement on their behalf.
“Sadly, we feel the need to again raise and address the issue of social media. It’s upsetting that we’ve continued to receive negative targeted messages and still wildly inaccurate speculation being shared on numerous platforms.”
CNN’s Amy Cassidy and Tara John contributed reporting.