BATES COUNTY, MO (KCTV) – There are new developments in the search for a missing woman in rural Missouri.

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Nicole Mallatt, 36, has been missing now for nine days and her family is beside themselves.

The Bates County Sheriff’s Office is still treating her disappearance as a missing persons case. They are not calling it a homicide investigation and that gives her family hope. However, they still fear the worst after some important items were found on Thursday.

The search for Mallatt has moved from the property where she lives with her longtime boyfriend to the surrounding farmland. Authorities found her phone, wallet, and backpack near the road where she was last seen. They also did a search warrant on her home.

So far, none of the recovered items have given any clues as to where she might be.

“Just because we found those articles does not necessarily mean that there is foul play,” said Sheriff Chad Anderson. “It is suspicious in nature.”

Mallatt has family in town from all over the state who are anxious for answers. They said the black backpack search crews found is what she used as a purse. It does not indicate that she was trying to run away. It also does not indicate whether she is alive or not.

Still, her family and law enforcement urge Mallatt to contact someone if she is alive so that they know she is OK.

Her family hopes to get answers soon. On Thursday morning, they all gathered at a daily search party meeting. Volunteers are doing a line search of every square foot of the property.

“They don’t want us to search because we are family,” they said. “We have a lot of farm fields that are open and a lot of ground to search.”

Among those there were Mallatt’s mother Debora Lewis. She believes something terrible has happened to her daughter.

“I’m worried sick about her,” she said. “I just want my daughter to come home.”

They last spoke the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. “She planned a big meal,” Lewis said. “She called me getting recipes and was happy and was excited.”

Sister in law Sarah Messick is beside herself. She last spoke to Mallatt Tuesday through text, when Mallatt asked to stay at her house. “And, that was the last I heard from her,” she said.

Mallatt was last seen by her ex husband, who said he dropped her off on the road near her house.

“I believe him,” said Mark Willy, Mallatt’s brother. “I do. I really believe him.”

Her brother said he believes someone else had to have seen her next. “I believe there’s foul play,” he said.

Sheriff Anderson had the following message for Mallatt: “If you have just decided that you are done and you want to start a new life and left on your own free will, I have one question and a favor to ask: That you go to your nearest law enforcement agency, identify yourself, let them confirm you’re who you are, and we can give your family some answers.”

If you know anything, you’re asked to call the Bates County Sheriff’s Office at 660-679-3232.

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