Investigators who are hunting for missing Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts have discovered a red shirt they believe could be tied to the girl’s baffling disappearance.
Tibbetts, 20, was last seen jogging in the town of Brooklyn on the evening of July 18, after which she was thought to have returned to her boyfriend’s house for the night. He was out of town for work, and she was watching his dog. Tibbetts sent her boyfriend a Snapchat message later that night, but failed to show up to work the next morning.
Federal investigators questioned a local pig farmer who had two previous convictions for stalking, but discovered nothing suspicious upon searching his property and phone.
After the red shirt was discovered by someone mowing a lawn near the farm, however, search teams have begun to scan ditches in the area for further clues.
Police have yet to say whether or not they can be sure the shirt belonged to Tibbetts, but Fox News has today confirmed that a colleague from the young woman’s place of work revealed that fellow staff members wear shirts of the same color.
Despite conducting hundreds of police interviews, authorities are still no closer to locating the college student.
On the day of her disappearance, Tibbetts’s brother dropped her off at her boyfriend’s house so she could dog-sit. According to the sheriff’s office, she was last spotted jogging around 7:30 that evening, wearing gym shorts, a pink sports bra and running shoes. She has not been seen since. Her activities at the time of her disappearance have led investigators to scan the data on Mollie’s fitbit device, hunting for clues as to her whereabouts.
Mitch Mortvedt, of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, has executed warrants to access Mollie’s Instagram and Facebook accounts, in addition to her Fitbit, according to the BBC.
Authorities have revealed that there was a “possible sighting” of Tibbetts in the Kansas City, Missouri, area at the end of last month. However, CBS News reported that the sighting had been “ruled out by investigators” due to its lack of verification.
“The first night she went missing, I was distraught,” Mollie’s mom, Laura Calderwood told KCCI-TV. “I knew her phone was dead, but I sent her a text saying, ‘I love you. We’re looking for you. We will find you no matter what.’”
“We don’t know where Mollie is at right now. And I am not going to draw any conclusions about the circumstances of her disappearance. Other than it is not consistent with her past,” said Kevin Winker, director of investigative operations for the Iowa Department of Public Safety, as reported by CNN.
Mollie’s dad, Rob Tibbetts, said the disappearance of his daughter was utterly “intolerable.”
“No one just disappears, no one just vanishes without a trace,” he added.
Mr. Tibbetts also spoke directly to his daughter’s potential captor:
“You obviously care for Mollie and, if you’re holding her, you’ve made a huge mistake,” he said. “Don’t compound it by dragging this out another minute. Let her go and turn yourself in. Face the consequences for the small act that you’ve done but don’t compound it.”
Mollie’s boyfriend and his brother have been ruled out as potential suspects — both were at work at the time of her disappearance.
Federal investigators have questioned a local pig farmer who had two previous convictions for stalking. Authorities searched his property and searched his phone for clues — but nothing came of it.
“I don’t know who those two [officials] were but they took me down to the fire station Tuesday and questioned me for two hours,” the farmer said, according to Fox News. “I don’t remember what they asked me.”
Tibbetts’s parents have confirmed that their daughter returned to her boyfriend’s house following her jog, and was doing school work late into the night.
The reward for information leading to Mollie’s whereabouts has risen to $172,000, her family has confirmed.
“As of 10 this morning we have raised $172,000 that would be paid to you as soon as Mollie is safely home,” her mother stated yesterday. The family also specified that they’d be willing to pay Mollie’s potential captor the reward money if they were prepared to release her immediately.