Hope is alive as the search for Mollie Tibbetts continues


Nick Rohlman

Missing posters for UI student Mollie Tibbetts are seen in Iowa City on Sunday, July 29, 2018. Tibbetts went missing between July 18 and 19, in Brooklyn, Iowa.

As you walk down almost any sidewalk in downtown Iowa City, posters of a smiling young woman with brunette hair sit propped in every storefront window. The word “MISSING” in bold is glaring and hard to miss.

The search continues almost two weeks after University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts vanished.

Authorities believe the sophomore went missing from Brooklyn, Iowa, between the night of July 18 and the morning of July 19.

The first weekend after Tibbetts’ disappearance, authorities and a search party of hundreds of local volunteers spent days looking for her in the Brooklyn area between the Tibbetts’ family home and her boyfriend’s house.

Her boyfriend, Dalton Jack, said Tibbetts sent him a Snapchat message the night she went missing. Jack told local news outlets that the message was a selfie of her that looked like it was taken inside his home.

Jack said he knew something was wrong when he checked his phone to see that Tibbetts hadn’t responded to a text message he had sent her.

On July 20, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation became involved with the search, and on July 23, the FBI joined the search as well.

RELATED: State, federal investigators involved in search for missing UI student Mollie Tibbetts

Authorities have turned to tracking social media and using Tibbetts’ Fitbit data to try to locate her while also following other leads.

Tibbetts is a UI psychology major involved in Dance Marathon and works on campus at the Eckstein Medical Research Building Café.

The UI shared a picture of Tibbetts on its social-media pages with the message, “Our thoughts are with Mollie Tibbetts’ family and friends. The University of Iowa is monitoring the situation and will offer support as needed.”

Tibbetts’ brother, Jake Tibbetts, said the last time he saw Mollie, he was dropping her off at her boyfriend’s house.

“I dropped her off Wednesday evening [July 18],” he said. “She was in contact with her boyfriend later into the night and doing homework on her computer. That’s the last we know of her whereabouts.”

Jake Tibbetts said Mollie has the biggest heart of anyone he knows.

“She loves being with friends and family, loves her boyfriend, loves school and social events,” he said. “She’s a part of Dance Marathon at Iowa and loves every second of that experience. She loves spending time with kids.”

UI student Ashley Johnson, a friend and coworker at the café, said Tibbetts is a best friend who always knows how to bring smiles to those around her. Johnson and Tibbetts met when they started working at the café.

“Since then, we’ve been best friends,” Johnson said. “She’s super-optimistic, easy-going, and extremely smart. She has this contagious laugh that always fills up the room.”

Johnson said Tibbetts helped make her experience at the UI comfortable and made her feel welcome.

“She’s someone who I met at Iowa and made me feel welcome at such a huge university,” she said. “She is a perfect example of what a Hawkeye should be.”

Jake said that as the investigation continues, he wishes his family knew more.

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