Searchers find missing woman’s cellphone, backpack in Bates County

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BUTLER, Mo. -- Searchers in Bates County have recovered personal items belonging to a mother of three who has been missing for more than a week.
Nicole Mallatt's family fears she is a victim of foul play.

Bates County Sheriff Chad Anderson disclosed Thursday that searchers have found Mallatt's cell phone, back pack and a pair of her shoes. All were in the area where the 36-year-old woman was last seen.

A group of volunteers joined law enforcement officers in searching farmland in rural Bates County for evidence of the mother of three.

The sheriff says Mallatt has been living with a boyfriend for the last 18 years, and the two have three children together. Mallatt's family claims she's been a victim of domestic violence at the hands of her boyfriend, but the sheriff says the boyfriend has been cooperating in the investigation.

"I thought finding her phone would help us out a lot," said Mark Willy, Mallatt's brother. "If we found her phone, we could get some information about who has seen who. Who talked to who last. We are hoping that comes to light today."

Mallatt also has a former husband who lives in the area where she was last seen. The sheriff says he too has been cooperating in the investigation. This is still considered a missing persons case because Mallatt's family has told the sheriff she has a history of occasionally dropping off the radar.

But her family says missing a major holiday like Thanksgiving without anyone knowing her whereabouts has raised red flags.

Anderson declined to comment about any domestic violence history involving Mallatt or what was recovered in her backpack, saying that's all evidence that is part of this investigation.

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