Two days before she disappeared last November, Nicole Mallatt, a mother of four children living with her longtime boyfriend, asked her sister-in-law if she could come spend a few days at her home.
“That’s what raised a red flag for us,” said the sister-in-law, Sarah Messick. "Like, why do you need to get out? And I didn’t get it out of her.”
On Friday, authorities confirmed that human remains found three days earlier near a bean field in southwest Bates County, Missouri, were those of the missing 36-year-old, who was last seen on Nov. 26, 2019, at her home in rural Butler.
“She wouldn’t have left her babies,” Messick told Fox 4 KC. “Those were her world. That’s what she lived for, her babies.”
In a statement posted to the agency's Facebook page, the sheriff's office said: "We ask for prayers for the family and friends of Nicole Mallatt. Nicole leaves behind 4 children who lived with her in the home."
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Messick said that learning the remains had been found felt like losing Mallatt for a second time.
“It was hard," she said, "and as soon as we got the call, we knew."
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The report that an article of clothing containing possible human remains had been found in the field reached the sheriff's office by about 1:30 p.m. Nov. 3.
Detectives from the sheriff’s office and the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Division of Drug and Crime Control responded and, after verifying the discovery, alerted Bates County Coroner Greg Mullinax. Around 7:30 p.m, a team of forensic anthropologists from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, arrived on scene, and the remains were recovered and taken to be identified.
A cause of death has not been determined.
Mallatt's family, which in May created a Facebook group titled "Hope For Nicole Shalee Mallatt," is holding on for answers.
“We’re OK with waiting because we want them to take their time and look over her and make sure they don’t miss anything,” said Messick.
“We’re not going to stop, just like we didn’t stop looking for her," she said. "We’re not going to stop fighting to figure out what happened and get justice.”