Public Safety

Mollie Tibbetts case: Investigators quietly continue search for missing Iowa student

Officials again cancel news conference, reveal no new details in search

Despite extensive national attention and a reward fund that’s topped $300,000, investigators continue to remain tight-lipped regarding their investigation into the disappearance of 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts, who vanished from Brooklyn, Iowa, three weeks ago.

The Iowa Department of Public Safety announced Thursday that it will postpone a news conference scheduled for Friday morning until Monday afternoon, marking the second cancellation this week for updates in the Tibbetts case.

And though investigators have shied away from sharing any information, Tibbetts’ family has not.

Earlier this week, Tibbetts’ father, Rob Tibbetts, made headlines when he told national news outlets he believed his daughter was taken by someone she knew. The father said something similar during an interview last week with The Gazette.

“I believe she still is alive,” he said. “I believe she was taken by someone she knew or trusted, and that person is now in over his head and wondering how to end this.”

The father described his daughter as a kind and charismatic person whose friendly outgoing personality could be misinterpreted. Rob Tibbetts was careful to clarify that this is simply his personal belief and not information investigators have communicated.

Mollie Tibbetts’ family members have made numerous appearances on television and in newspapers over the past week pleading for information and asking whoever might have taken Tibbetts to let her go.

“I’ve said all along, that in a community like Brooklyn, everybody knows everybody and everybody sees everything. And so someone knows what’s happened,” Rob Tibbetts said on ABC News “Nightline” on Monday night.

Meanwhile, investigators have quietly continued their search for Tibbetts.

Since Tibbetts’ family teamed up with Crime Stoppers of Central Iowa to establish a reward fund, Rob Tibbetts said nearly 500 new leads and tips have come in for investigators.

Media reports have also indicated investigators returned this week to a hog farm in the Deep River area — about 15 miles southeast of Brooklyn — to conduct another search of the property and interview the property owner again.

The property owner, Wayne Cheney, has not been named as a suspect or person of interest in this case.

Cheney told various outlets this week that authorities have questioned him in regards to Tibbetts’ disappearance, but he has insisted he is not involved. Reports indicate Cheney initially refused investigators’ request to take a polygraph, but the farmer told Fox News on Thursday that he took the test Tuesday.

Cheney said he didn’t know what the results were but insists he “has nothing to hide.”

The next news conference, DPS said, will be held at 3 p.m. Monday at the Poweshiek County Sheriff’s Office in Montezuma. The news release states investigators will provide updates “regarding the investigative response.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8238; kat.russell@thegazette.com

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