The Search For Mollie Continues

Rob Tibbitts addresses the media at a press conference on August 3rd, 2018.

Rob Tibbitts addresses the media at a press conference on August 3rd, 2018.

Montezuma, Iowa – Investigators say the intensity to find Mollie Tibbetts hasn’t diminished since her disappearance on July 18th, 2018 at approximately 7:30pm.

Tibbetts is a 20-year-old University of Iowa student who went missing and was last seen jogging near the Brooklyn, Iowa area, where she was dog-sitting for her boyfriend.

Tibbetts last known clothing description was known to be dark-colored running shorts, a pink sports top, and running shoes.

The case has drawn national attention due in part to the efforts of the family to keep the investigation in front of the media.

The investigative update for the media was held on Friday morning outside the Poweshiek County Sheriff’s Office in Montezuma, Iowa.

Kevin Winker, The Director of Investigative Operations for the Iowa Department of Public Safety, opened up the press conference and introduced Poweshiek County Sheriff Tom Kriegel, who then read a brief statement.

Kriegel thanked the media for getting the word out about Mollie to people all across the county.

“Although Mollie has not been located, the investigation into her disappearance has not slowed down at all,” said Kriegel, who encouraged the public to contact tip lines if they believe they have information related to Mollie’s disappearance.

Kriegel encouraged those with tips about Mollie that are from outside the immediate area of Brooklyn, Iowa to reach out to their local authorities. By reaching out to local authorities, it would allow local law enforcement to respond quickly to the information.

“The investigative response has not slowed down,” said Winker. “Investigators from the Poweshiek County Sheriff’s Office, the DCI [Department of Criminal Investigations], and the FBI continue to complete leads that have come in, as well as evaluate and prioritize new leads being received every day.”

“Unfortunately, we have not yet found Mollie, but it has not been due to a lack of effort or a lack of resources,” explained Winker. “We appreciate the continued support of Mollie’s family, the entire community, and the media organizations keeping this story in the news.”

“Our position has not changed on the release of case facts, results, and conclusions,” said Winker. “I understand this is frustrating for many in the public and the media, but feel this is necessary for our investigation. Our position has also not changed in that, if we evaluate a piece of information and feel its release could lead us to Mollie, we will do so immediately.”

Winker said there are media reports that the DCI has not confirmed. “The fact that we do not confirm or deny these details is not an indicator of their truth or false lead.””

When it comes to social media posts and if they are beneficial or not, Winker said that the postings are beneficial “in that they keep the investigation in the public eye. However I would keep in mind that these postings are often rumor and unconfirmed by law enforcement.”

“As a result of this investigation, many questions have arisen from the public and the media regarding missing children in Iowa.” Winker then introduced Medina Rahmanovic, Iowa’s Missing Person Information Clearinghouse Manager.

Mollie Tibbits was reported missing from Brooklyn, Iowa on July 19th, 2018. Efforts have been underway since then to locate the missing 20-year-old. RAGBRAI riders pass a sign for Mollie in New Sharon, Iowa.

Mollie Tibbits was reported missing from Brooklyn, Iowa on July 19th, 2018. Efforts have been underway since then to locate the missing 20-year-old. RAGBRAI riders pass a sign for Mollie in New Sharon, Iowa.

Radmanovic addressed some frequently asked questions they have been receiving.

Starting with some general statistics, Radmanovic said that as of August 2nd, 2018, there were a total of 390 persons entered into the National Crime Information Center. “Of those, 225 were listed as juveniles. A majority of those are run-away situations.”

“Twenty-six of those individuals listed on the clearinghouse website are categorized as involuntary,” explained Rahmanovic. “Those 26 cases date back as far back as 1976, which confirms that abductions, involuntary disappearances, are not common in our state.”

“Numbers have been staying steady over the years when it comes to missing persons, runaway youth, and Amber Alerts,’ said Radmanovic. “The clearinghouse website was established in 1985 as a result of Iowa legislation passed in Iowa Code Chapter 694.”

“People go missing for various reasons. Whether that be by choice, wondering away because of their disability, running away from home, stranger abduction, or by someone that they know,” said Radmanovic.

Winker then took questions from the media, which included looking for clarification about a red shirt that had allegedly been discovered.

According to staff where Mollie worked, a red shirt was going to be worn the day she disappeared.

Winker said he didn’t have any information with him in regards to a red shirt being found. “And that’s not to say there was one found or not found. I just don’t have that information.”

“As far as suspects go, we continue to look at all possibilities,” added Winker. “I’m not in a position right now to say we have suspects, we don’t have suspects, persons of interest or anything else.”

When asked if investigators were closer now to solving the disappearance than they were two weeks ago, Winker said, “That would be a conclusion based on the investigation, and I’m not going to speak to that at this point.”

Winker said he expects searches to be conducted during the investigation when presented with leads, but once again would neither confirm or deny they had any suspects in the case.

“We are treating this as a missing persons investigation and we are trying to find Mollie, and that continues to be our focus, to find Mollie”, added Winker.

“We come to work every day with an attitude that we’re going to find Mollie today and we hope to be able to do that and report that to you soon,” added Winker.

On average, 30 to 40 investigators from the Poweshiek County Sheriff’s Office, DCI and the FBI are working the case each day.

“If somebody thinks they’ve seen Mollie, they need to call 911 or call local law enforcement right away, to generate an immediate response to wherever that location is that that sighting occurred,” added Winker.

Mollie’s father Rob Tibbitts addressed the media, “Just standing here looking at all of you. Time is compressed. Days seem like weeks, and we’ve all become a family. I see all of your faces, I recognized all of you. We’ve all spoken many times. I can’t tell you how much we appreciate you. You’re all working 16, 18 hour days just like the investigative team. You’re living out of suitcases, all so you can share this story.”

“We’re all in this together. We’re all trying to bring Mollie back,” added Tibbitts. “We are deeply appreciative of all our partners, from law enforcement, and all of you [media]. I can’t tell you how grateful we are and we’ll continue, you call us, we’ll show up.”

“We’ll help you [media] in any way we can, cause you’re helping us, and we are really, really grateful,” said Tibbitts. “Thank you all very much.”

Kriegel thanked those individuals staffing the tip lines who had been receiving hundreds of calls a day.

The tip lines for Mollie Tibbits are 800-452-1111 or 515-223-1400 or by email at tips@poweshiekcosheriff.com

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