London (AFP) -
Police investigating the fate of a woman who vanished in northwest England said Sunday they had found a body in a river, in a case that has gripped the country.
Nicola Bulley, 45, was last seen walking along the River Wyre on January 27 shortly after dropping her two daughters, aged nine and six, off at school.
Her phone was found on a bench still dialled in to a work conference call, and her dog was running loose.
Lancashire Police have come under stinging criticism for their handling of the case, including from the government after revealing personal details about Bulley's drinking and state of mind.
Bulley's family had rejected the police hypothesis that she may have taken her own life, and the case has attracted blanket media coverage as well as amateur sleuths and social media video-makers who have flocked to the area.
The Lancashire force said that after further underwater searches of the river, its officers had 'sadly recovered a body'.
'Procedures to identify the body are ongoing,' it said in a statement, adding that the death remained unexplained.
'Nicola's family have been informed of developments and our thoughts are with them at this most difficult of times.'