Investigators desperate to find missing Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts announced Monday they have established a website to take tips from the public, hoping to stir the memories of residents who may have seen something the night she disappeared.
The 20-year-old has been missing nearly a month. Monday's press conference was the first time in 10 days that tight-lipped authorities have given a media briefing on the high-profile case involving county, state and federal law enforcement agencies.
The website, findingmollie.iowa.gov, allows visitors to leave anonymous information and contains an interactive map of locations, including a truck stop and a general store, in the small town of Brooklyn, asking anyone in the vicinity of those sites on the night of July 18 to contact authorities.
“Mollie is a sensitive, respectful young lady,” said Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation agent Mitch Mortvedt. “She’s an outstanding student who is well-liked by her professors and classmates. Her disappearance is completely out of character for her.”
As they have throughout the investigation, Mortvedt and others refused to divulge details of their work, except to say investigators have received more than 1,500 tips and interviewed more than 500 people since Tibbetts vanished after leaving for an evening jog.
No one has seen her since.
“It is possible that Mollie came into contact with someone who has caused her harm,” Mortvedt said.
He asked to residents to recall the time she went missing and to search their memories for differences in the actions of people they know.
“Individuals who commit violent crimes often display behavior that is recognized by those with whom they live, work, attend school or are in otherwise close relationships with,” he said.
Specifically, he noted, any changes in: daily routines including missing school or work and having no plausible explanation for the absence; any vehicles that were unexpectedly sold, lost, extensively cleaned or taken to a repair shop; any change in physical appearance including removing facial hair, cutting hair or changing its color; change in the consumption of alcohol, drugs or cigarettes; changes in sleep patterns, and extensive interest in following the case or an unwillingness to discuss it.
The reward for information that results in Tibbetts' safe homecoming now exceeds $366,000.
"We haven't lost hope," said state agent Rick Rahn. "We continue to strive to bring her home safely. We are not frustrated."