Moncks Corner - After Nicole Goodlett went missing under suspicious circumstances three months ago, her parents got texts from her cellphone and messages from her Facebook account.
How to help
People with any information about Nicole Goodlett's disappearance should contact Midlands Crime Stoppers by telephone at 1-888-274-6372 or by text message by writing "TIPSC" and the tip to 274637. Another anonymous option that would make tipsters eligible for the $3,000 reward is Crime Stoppers of the Lowcountry at 843-554-1111. People who do not wish to remain anonymous can call the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office at 843-719-4412 or the Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office at 864-503-4509.
But the parents of the Upstate mother of three doubted that the messages were from the 28-year-old from Spartanburg, according to reports, and they started fearing the worst.
On Monday, they expressed hope that Goodlett was being held against her will somewhere in Berkeley County after reporting her missing March 12.
Sheriff's deputies and her family have asked for tips in their quest to find the mother. But their pleas were fruitless in the Upstate, so they turned Monday to the Lowcountry and offered a $3,000 reward.
Investigators named Jerald Jermaine Howard, 32, her boyfriend and the father of her 9-month-old twin daughters, as a person of interest in the disappearance. Howard has relatives in Berkeley County, investigators said, and deputies found the twin daughters at his parent's house in the area after Goodlett went missing.
But they don't know where Howard is now, they said.
As he read a statement Monday, Goodlett's father said the ordeal has been especially difficult for his 5-year-old grandson. The boy has lived with his grandparents in Texas since his mother was reported missing.
"Not a day goes by without her son praying to God to bring his mother back home," James Goodlett, 55, of Abilene, Texas, said. "Nicole loves her children with all of her heart, and she took very good care of them."
Nicole Goodlett's brother was the last family member to see her at Christmastime in Greenville County, a report stated.
Later in the winter, the woman's parents could not reach her, so they flew from Texas and searched. After her father and mother, Bozena Goodlett, came up empty, they reported her missing in mid-March to the Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office. She had no family in the Upstate.
The last known sighting of Goodlett was Feb. 20 at 160 Loblolly Drive in Spartanburg, where she lived with Howard. That the loving mother has had no recent contact with her children led investigators to suspect foul play, Bobo explained.
"It doesn't make much sense that a mother of three small children would totally abandon her children," he said.
Deputies had been called to the couple's home once for an argument that had not turned violent, Bobo said.
Howard was convicted of domestic violence after a May 2008 arrest, but the victim in that case wasn't immediately known.
Deputies also jailed Howard on March 26, two weeks after Nicole Goodlett was reported missing, after they said he entered a house on Graymouth Drive in Spartanburg while they searched it for evidence and carried away a cellphone. During that encounter, deputies said Howard acted nervous, agitated and in a hurry to leave.
Two days later, he posted $1,000 bail on a charge of resisting arrest.
At some point, Bobo said, Howard made his way to the Lowcountry. Investigators have searched parts of Berkeley County, but Capt. Bobby Shuler of the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office would not discuss where exactly they have looked.
"We feel like he is in this area," Bobo said Monday during a news conference. "At some point, he came this way with the children."
On April 5, the profile photograph on the missing woman's Facebook page was changed. Her mother also told deputies that she had gotten messages from her phone that said she was struggling to care for her children and that she wanted to go away for a while, according to sheriff's reports.
But when her mother started using German to communicate with her daughter, the messages became "gibberish and almost unintelligible," the reports stated.
The woman's parents have added $2,000 to a $1,000 reward already offered by Crime Stoppers for information that leads to an arrest.
Nicole Goodlett goes by the nicknames "Alazay" and "Zay." Tattooed on her lower right leg is a rose bush with the names James, Bozena, Daniel, Nicole and Jessica. She also has a tattoo that says "Capricorn" on her right wrist and one of a quick-response, or QR, barcode on her left ankle.
Her parents on Monday stood next to each other as they told reporters about their ordeal, but they answered no questions. They had traveled from Texas to make the tearful plea for help.
Before they made the trip, James Goodlett said his grandson asked them to find out where his mother was "so she could come pick him up and take him and his little sisters home."
"To him, this tragedy makes no sense whatsoever," he said, "and it makes no sense to any of us."
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.