IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Investigators have recovered a body believed to be that of 20-year-old college student Mollie Tibbetts, who disappeared from her small hometown in central Iowa a month ago, a spokesman for a reward fund said Tuesday. Greg Willey of Crime Stoppers of Central Iowa said he learned of the discovery from a close friend of the Tibbetts on Tuesday morning. Willey said he has no other details about the discovery, calling it a tough but not unexpected ending to the search for the University of Iowa student.
The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation planned a 5 p.m. news conference to provide an update on the case. A spokesman for the agency has not returned a message seeking comment. Tibbetts vanished July 18 from Brooklyn, Iowa, a rural town of about 1,400 peope. Investigators said she was last seen as she took a routine evening jog. It’s unclear whether she returned to the home where she was dog-sitting for her boyfriend and her boyfriend’s brother, who have said they were both out of town. She was reported missing by her family the next day, after she didn’t show up for work at a day camp for children.
Tibbetts’ disappearance set off a massive search involving dozens of officers from the FBI, as well as state and local agencies. They focused much of their efforts in and around Brooklyn, searching farm fields, ponds and homes. Investigators last week asked anyone who was around five locations, including a car wash, a truck stop and a farm south of town, to report if they saw anything suspicious on July 18.
Last week, Vice President Mike Pence met privately with the Tibbetts family during a visit to Iowa and told them that “you’re on the hearts of every American.” While hundreds of people have been interviewed, no suspects have been publicly identified in Tibbetts’ disappearance.
Willey’s group has been administering a reward fund that raised nearly $400,000 for any tip that led to Tibbetts’ safe return. He said the fund will now likely be used for any information that helps police catch anyone responsible for her death.
“Once they catch their breath, this will turn into a weapon going the other direction, to catch the person who did it,” he said.
Tibbetts, a psychology major, would have started her junior year this week in Iowa City, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) east of Brooklyn. She was staying with her longtime boyfriend and working while home from school over the summer.
By RYAN FOLEY, Associated Press