Public Safety

Mollie Tibbetts search: Investigators highlight five possible points of interest

Downtown Jackson Street is seen in Brooklyn on Aug. 3. Community members have searched the area around the town and law enforcement officials are investigating the disappearance of Mollie Tibbetts, who was last seen on July 18. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Downtown Jackson Street is seen in Brooklyn on Aug. 3. Community members have searched the area around the town and law enforcement officials are investigating the disappearance of Mollie Tibbetts, who was last seen on July 18. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

In launching a website aimed at aiding in the search for 20-year-old missing Iowa woman Mollie Tibbetts, investigators have highlighted five areas in and around Brooklyn that may be points of interest in their investigation.

The website, findingmollie.iowa.gov, was announced Monday during a news conference at the Poweshiek County Sheriff’s Office and features an interactive map of the specific areas.

Mitch Mortvedt, assistant director of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, said the website aims to “jog” people’s memories of where they were and who and what they saw in the days and hours leading up to the evening of July 18, the last time Tibbetts was seen.

The most obvious point of interest on the map focuses on the town of Brooklyn, making specific mention of D&M Car Wash, on Clay Street near East Second Street in Brooklyn’s downtown area. The car wash sits about a mile south of Tibbetts’ mother’s home and offers easy access to V18 Road, a small two-lane highway that, runs south straight into Interstate 80.

Following V18 Road south, the map highlights TA Truck Stop as another point of interest. The truck stop sits at 4124 V18 Road, just off interstate 80 and about 2 miles south of downtown Brooklyn.

Investigators also highlighted an area on the western edge of Brooklyn that centers on 385th Avenue/West Des Moines Street. Tibbett’s boyfriend, Dalton Jack, and his brother live in that area, according to media reports, and Tibbetts was dog sitting at their house the night she disappeared. The surrounding appears to be rural farmland that leads into residential properties as it gets closer to town.

Another area of interest lies northeast of Brooklyn, where investigators highlighted properties that sit along 385th Avenue and 200th Street, just south of Bear Creek. The terrain appears to be mostly farmland with scattered structures.

The final point sits about 5 miles southeast of Brooklyn. There, investigators highlighted the area around 430th Avenue and 200th Street. This is another area that appears to be mostly farmland. The terrain also appears to have some sparse thickets of trees and a possible creek.

Investigators have declined to give any information regarding the significance of these locations but asked those who were in the highlighted areas on the evening of July 18 to contact law enforcement with any information regarding who and what they might have seen.

Tibbetts was reported missing on July 19 after her boyfriend and family realized she had not shown up for work. During the course of the investigation, officials said they have received more than 1,500 tips related to Tibbetts’ disappearance and have conducted more than 500 interviews.

Investigators routinely characterize the Tibbetts case as a missing persons investigation, but Monday’s news conference was the first time they acknowledged something more sinister may have happened.

Mortvedt noted it was possible Tibbetts may have come into contact with “someone who has caused her harm,” and urged the public to “reflect back on the days prior to her disappearance in hopes of recalling details about any persons or vehicles in the area,” paying close attention to people who may have exhibited sudden changes in behavior or routines, displayed unusually nervous or tense behavior, or taken an extreme interest in the Tibbetts investigation and media reports.

“It is often in cases like this, that people may have information they do not initially share for a number of completely understandable reasons,” he said, adding individuals may feel the information they have is insignificant or something that would have already been reported.

“Please do not make your own judgment about importance,” he urged. “Please allow us to assess the information.”

A reward fund, set up by Tibbetts’ family and Crime Stoppers of Central Iowa, has garnered more than $360,000 in donations, money investigators said came from 228 donors.

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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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