Family condemn Tik Tok amateur sleuths after UK woman’s ‘accidental’ death
The death sparked intense speculation within the online true crime community, with numerous theories circulating regarding the circumstances surrounding her vanishing
The incident occurred in January when Bulley, after dropping off her two young daughters at school, was spotted walking her dog along a river in the rural village of St Michael’s on Wyre in northwestern England (Representative Image: iStock)
At an inquest held on Tuesday (27), a coroner determined that Nicola Bulley, a British woman whose unexplained disappearance earlier this year generated significant attention from online sleuths and conspiracy theorists, had accidentally fallen into a river and drowned.
The incident occurred in January when Bulley, after dropping off her two young daughters at school, was spotted walking her dog along a river in the rural village of St Michael’s on Wyre in northwestern England.
Prior to the discovery of the coroner’s conclusion, her disappearance had perplexed many, leading to widespread speculation on social media.
The phone of the 45-year-old mortgage adviser was discovered on a bench, still connected to a work conference call, following her mysterious disappearance.
The incident sparked intense speculation within the online true crime community, with numerous theories circulating regarding the circumstances surrounding her vanishing.
One TikTok user even had himself filmed digging up potential burial sites and then captured the moment Bulley’s body was pulled from reeds in the river over three weeks later.
But ruling that her death had been accidental, coroner James Adeley said she had suffered “cold water shock” after going into the river.
He said the exact circumstances of how she fell in could not be known, but evidence showed there had been a steep grassy slope around the bench with an “almost vertical drop” to the water.
The river bank itself had no footholds that would have allowed someone in trouble to climb out, he added at the hearing in Preston, northwestern England.
In addition, the flow of the river on the day she disappeared would have made it almost impossible to swim against the current, he said.
After the hearing, Bulley’s family hit out at the social media speculation over her case.
“It’s upsetting that we’ve continued to receive negative targeted messages and still witness wildly inaccurate speculation being shared over numerous platforms,” the family’s lawyer Terry Wilcox said in a statement on their behalf.
“We encourage people to look at the facts, the evidence which has been heard during the inquest, and the conclusion reached by the coroner, to ignore any amateur views and opinions, and be mindful of the impact words bring.”
Detective chief superintendent Pauline Stables of Lancashire Police said she hoped the coroner’s finding would “put an end to ill-informed speculation and conspiracy theories which have been so damaging to Nikki’s family”.
Lancashire police were criticised over their handling of Bulley’s disappearance, including sharing personal information such as her struggles with alcohol and the perimenopause.
But the police watchdog said in May that they would face no further action.
Coroners’ inquests are held in England and Wales to try to establish the causes and circumstances of sudden or unexplained deaths based on the balance of probability.
They do not determine criminal or civil liability but set out facts in the public interest.