Public Safety

State and federal investigators join in search for Mollie Tibbetts

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State and federal agencies are stepping in to help with the search for Mollie Tibbetts, 20, a soon-to-be University of Iowa sophomore who went missing from Brooklyn, Iowa on July 18.

Authorities believe she disappeared sometime Wednesday night after going for a run in the Brooklyn area.

Law enforcement personnel, first responders and hundreds of local volunteers spent Thursday and Friday searching the area the between Tibbetts’ family’s home and her boyfriend’s place, both located in Brooklyn, but she was nowhere to be found.

Mitch Mortvedt, Assistant Director of Field Operations for the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigations said DCI joined the investigation Friday and the FBI became involved Monday. Both agencies, he said, are able to offer extensive resources to aid in the search for Tibbetts.

“The FBI brings a lot of investigational power with forensic analysis and evidence assistance,” he said. “Additionally, the FBI has a highly-trained search and rescue team … and that is one of the resources they brought in.”

Though volunteer searchers were asked to stand down over the weekend, Mortvedt said investigators are continuing to search and re-search areas in and around Brooklyn.

Moreover, Mortvedt said investigators are “fielding any leads that come in from the public, as well as reviewing leads and intelligence already gathered during the course of the investigation.”

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Though still considered a missing persons case, Mortvedt said DCI treats every case as if it was a criminal investigation. He declined to comment as to whether investigators have developed leads indicating other people were involved.

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“We want the best possible outcome for this, which is for Mollie to come home safely,” Mortvedt said. “We’re asking for the assistance of anyone who has seen Mollie or had any contact whatsoever with her. And, if she is somewhere on her own accord, we would ask that she reaches out and lets us know she’s ok.”

Repeated calls for comment to the Poweshiek County Sheriff’s Office have gone unanswered,

Tibbetts was last heard from at about 10 p.m. July 18 when she sent a Snapchat message to Dalton Jack, her boyfriend of nearly three years. Authorities have said Tibbetts was staying at Jack’s residence and caring for his dogs at the time of her disappearance.

Jack, who said he was in Dubuque for work when Tibbetts went missing, told local news outlets the message he received was a selfie, and the image looked as if it was taken indoors, likely from inside his residence.

Jack told local outlets he knew something was wrong Thursday morning when Tibbetts didn’t show up for work and didn’t call in. The boyfriend said he then checked a text message he had sent her that morning and realized she had not opened or read it.

“I was the one who threw red flags,” he told local outlets.

Tibbetts’ mother, Laura Calderwood said she last heard from her daughter Wednesday afternoon. The next day, she said, her daughter was gone.

“It’s very hard not knowing where your child is,” she said. “We just want her to come home.”

Anyone who has information regarding Tibbetts’ disappearance or her whereabouts is asked to contact the Poweshiek County Sheriff’s Office at (641) 623-5679.

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

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