BUTLER, Mo. — The family of a Bates County woman who had been missing for nearly a year are relieved her remains were found, but they still have a lot of unanswered questions surrounding her death.
The remains of 36-year-old Nicole Mallatt were positively identified on Friday.
“I felt like it was coming soon,” said Sarah Messick, Mallatt’s sister-in-law.
Messick said getting the call the call that authorities had found Mallat’s remains was like losing her all over again.
“It was hard, and as soon as we got the call, we knew,” she said.
Mallat was last seen alive in late November 2019 at the home she shared with her longtime boyfriend and children in rural Butler, Missouri.
“She wouldn’t have left her babies,” Messick said. “Those were her world. That’s what she lived for, her babies.”
The Bates County Sheriff’s Office and Mallatt’s family spent months searching for any clues of the missing mom. In December, the sheriff’s office found Mallatt’s cellphone and backpack in the area where she lived, but no signs of her body.
Last Tuesday, a farmer found a pair of pants with human remains in a bean field in rural Bates County, according to the sheriff’s office. Authorities positively identified the remains as Mallatt’s on Friday.
“So many things go through your mind of was it this or that,” Messick said.
Messick said the last time she talked to Mallatt was two days before she disappeared. She said Mallatt asked if she could stay at their house for a few days.
“That’s what raised a red flag for us,” she said. “Like why do you need to get out? And I didn’t get it out of her.”
Messick said it could take anywhere from 14-18 weeks before forensic anthropologists determine how Mallatt died.
“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,” she said.
While the family waits, they’re hopeful a thorough investigation will give them the answers and closure they’ve waited nearly a year for.
“We’re not going to stop, just like we didn’t stop looking for her. We’re not going to stop fighting to figure out what happened and get justice,” Messick said.
FOX4 reached out to Bates County Sheriff Chad Anderson several times on Monday with questions about the investigation but did not receive a response by the time this story published.
Mallatt’s family is selling t-shirts, decals and yard signs in her honor to ensure she has a proper memorial when her remains are returned to them. To learn more, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Hope for Nicole Mallatt Facebook page.