Sunday, March 3, 2024

The Suspicious Disappearance and Death of Nicole Mallatt

Source: KSHB 41

Nicole Mallatt was amongst the millions of people in the United States who were preparing for the Thanksgiving holiday during November 2019. The 36-year-old was looking forward to having quality time with her children, as they planned to make their Thanksgiving meal together. Unfortunately, this never got to happen, as Nicole vanished on November 26th, 2019 - just two days before the holiday.

At the time of her disappearance, Nicole lived with her boyfriend, Brad Shreve, and their four children in Bates County, Missouri. Their residence on SW County Road 3508 is considered to be located in a rural area. Nicole was last seen just down the street from her residence on the evening she vanished. 

According to reports, Nicole's ex-husband Richie Mallatt picked her up near her home that evening. Richie later told investigators that the two spent approximately 45 minutes together before he dropped Nicole off in the same area where he picked her up. A short time later, a neighbor driving by saw a woman who he believed to be Nicole standing on the side of that same road. After that final sighting, Nicole was never seen alive again. 

Nicole was reported missing on November 29th, 2019. A few days later, searchers found Nicole's backpack, shoes, and cell phone alongside a creek located near the area where she was last seen. Investigators also searched Nicole's residence but did not disclose if any evidence was found. 

Nearly a year passed without any further sign of Nicole. Then, on November 3rd, 2020, a farmer plowing his field found a pair of sweatpants with a human femur bone inside them. He then discovered several more human remains alongside a nearby creek - the same creek where Nicole's items had been found almost a year earlier. 

Police were called, and the responding investigators immediately had a hunch that the remains belonged to Nicole. Three days later, it was confirmed that the remains were, in fact, that of Nicole Mallatt. However, an autopsy was unable to confirm an exact cause of death. This, in addition to many other suspicious aspects of Nicole's case, have left several unanswered questions.

What happened to Nicole?

Source: Facebook

As previously noted, Nicole spent time with her ex-husband Richie Mallatt shortly before her disappearance. While this inevitably leads to questions about Richie's potential involvement, he has never been publicly labeled as a suspect. Additionally, a neighbor believes that he saw Nicole after Richie dropped her off that evening.

That neighbor, Josh Mellenbruch, told reporters in 2023 that he saw a woman matching Nicole's description standing on the side of SW County Road, wearing a hoodie and carrying a backpack. Mellenbruch explained that "he slowed down and asked Nicole if she needed a ride since she was standing out in the dark. She declined the ride, saying she was waiting on someone to pick her up."

It appears that it was never confirmed that the woman Mellenbruch saw was, in fact, Nicole, but it certainly seems plausible. There were no other reported sightings of Nicole after that instance. 

Before Nicole's disappearance.

According to reports, Nicole sent messages to friends and family members in the weeks leading up to her disappearance that indicated that she was going through a hard time. In October 2019, she sent a text message to her aunt that said "I don't know what to do anymore. If I don't leave here soon, he's only going to end up killing me." 

Nicole sent messages of similar nature to other people around the same time. She also had a long phone conversation with a woman named Heather Smith - Nicole's friend of over 20 years. Heather told reporters that Nicole said she was going to leave after Thanksgiving "if things continued to go the way they were going." If Nicole was, in fact, serious about leaving after Thanksgiving, it seems all the more suspicious that she vanished right before the holiday. 

It also seems likely that Nicole was referring to her live-in boyfriend, Brad Shreve, in the aforementioned messages. However, according to investigators, Nicole did not identify anyone by name in the texts. Still, suspicions about Brad are present.

Relationship with Brad Shreve.

Nicole and Brad had been together, seemingly off and on, for 18 years. The couple had four children together. At some point throughout those 18 years, Nicole married another man before seemingly getting back together with Brad. 

Nicole's family and friends told reporters that domestic violence was present in her relationship with Brad. In 2018, Brad was charged with assault after getting into a physical altercation with Nicole and another man at their home. In October 2019, Nicole reportedly called police about a "domestic disturbance", but when officers showed up at the house, she stated she actually told dispatchers to not send anyone.

During that incident, Brad ended up being arrested for illegally growing marijuana and for felony possession of a weapon. According to the police report, both Brad and Nicole told the deputy that their dispute was verbal, so no charges related to a domestic disturbance were filed. 

On November 25th, 2019 - just a day before Nicole vanished - she reportedly messaged her sister-in-law, saying that she might need to stay with her for a few days due to a fight she had gotten into with Brad. 

Brad has acknowledged that he and Nicole were, in fact, fighting shortly before her disappearance. However, he denies any involvement in her disappearance and death. In 2023, Brad told a reporter that he went to his father's house in Butler, Missouri on the day of Nicole's disappearance. The reporter corroborated this with Brad's father, but it's unclear if police have been able to confirm this alibi.

Searching for Nicole.

Reports state that Nicole was reported missing by Brad's family on November 29th, 2019. The initial missing persons advisory stated that Nicole "might have suicidal ideations." Nicole's family members do not believe she was suicidal, nor do they believe she would voluntarily be out-of-touch with her children. 

As mentioned earlier, a search for Nicole turned up her cell phone, shoes, and backpack - but not Nicole herself. The items were located alongside a creek, approximately 100 yards away from the property line of Nicole's residence.

Search teams during a search for Nicole. (Source: KSHB 41)

Months passed, and Nicole remained missing. Meanwhile, the relationship between Nicole's family and Brad's family began to deteriorate. Nicole's loved ones reportedly pointed the finger at Brad; claiming he was responsible for Nicole's disappearance. During June 2020, police were called several times about threats being made towards Brad and his family by Nicole's supporters. 

Nicole is found - but why did it take so long?

Nicole's partial remains were found by a farmer plowing his property on November 3rd, 2020. According to reports, her remains were found just 500 yards away from where her items were found in November 2019 - and just 600 yards away from her own property line. 

Many have questioned how Nicole was not found during the professional searches shortly after she went missing. While it seems possible that she was simply not spotted, some have questioned if her remains were placed there after the searches were conducted. 

An inconclusive autopsy.

Due to the fact that Nicole's remains were bones at the time they were found, investigators were not able to conduct a toxicology examination. The state of the remains also did not reveal an obvious cause of death. 

Investigators have not labeled Nicole's death as a homicide, but the case is still open. Police are still searching for clues and leads.

Where the case stands.

In 2023, it was reported that detectives have a few "persons of interest" who they have not publicly named due to the ongoing investigation. It is also believed that people who have not spoken up know about what might have happened to Nicole. 

Nicole's loved ones are hoping to find answers. If you have any information that could help the investigation, please contact the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-8477.

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