The disappearance of Mollie Tibbetts: The search for a girl that has captivated a nation

She had been staying at her boyfriend, Dalton Jack's house looking after his dogs when she went for a run on July 18 evening and was never seen again

                            The disappearance of Mollie Tibbetts: The search for a girl that has captivated a nation
(Source:Getty Images)

University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts was reported missing on July 19 in Brooklyn, Iowa. She had been staying at her boyfriend Dalton Jack's house looking after his dogs. On the evening of July 18, she went for a run and has not been seen since. Jack saw his girlfriend on July 16 before he left to go for work at a construction company in Dubuque, which is about 140 miles away from the home.

The search for the missing 20-year-old student has not been easy due to the rural terrain which is filled with rows of corn. Tibbetts had been in the high school track team and going for a run in the evening was a normal thing for her. Jack also confirmed that going for a run around 6 to 7 pm was part of her daily routine 

He told ABC News: "She knows Brooklyn extremely well, better than I do, and I’ve lived here my entire life." Jack explained that Tibbetts always wore her FitBit (a fitness tracker) and would always take her cell phone with her on her run. All calls that have been made to the phone, however, have gone to voicemail.

Tibbetts had just finished her freshman year at the University of Iowa in the spring. She had majored in Sociology. Laura Calderwood, her mother, said that Tibbetts had been looking forward to starting her sophomore year and that she had been "full of hope". Tibbetts was reportedly about to move into her first apartment when she suddenly disappeared.

Jack and Tibbetts had started dating when they were in high school and were together for more than two years at the time of her disappearance. Jack told ABC News: "She is kind, sweet, caring. She’ll do anything for everybody."

The couple had planned to go on summer vacation to the Dominican Republic in August for Jack's brother's wedding. Calderwood admitted: "As that date gets closer, it’s like closing in on me. Because I’m thinking about two people that are getting married that were also really close to Mollie. It’s supposed to be the happiest day of their life."

Tibbetts who has long brown hair and brown eyes was last seen on July 19 around 5:30 pm; she was wearing a black sports bra, gym shorts, and running shoes. She had sent Jack a Snapchat photo later that night; this was the last time anyone had any contact with her. Jack realised that she was missing when she didn't go to work the next day or call in sick. Tibbetts is described as 5-foot-3-inches tall, and weighing about 120 lbs.

Timeline of the disappearance

Monday, July 16

Jack said he saw his girlfriend for the last time on this day.

Tuesday, July 17

Jack drove to the construction company, which is about 140 miles away. Tibbetts had been staying over at the home that Jack stays in with his brother to watch the dogs.

Wednesday, July 18

5:30 pm: Jake, Tibbetts' older brother, dropped her off at Jack's home where she was reportedly staying alone watching the dogs. Detectives said that he was the last person to see her and that he isn't a suspect.

7:30-7:45 pm: The authorities constructed a "reasonable timeline" and according to this, Tibbetts had gone on her jog in this time span. Kim Calderwood, Tibbetts' aunt, told WOI earlier that a neighbor had seen the university student jogging around 5:30 pm.

10 pm: Jack got a SnapChat message from his girlfriend and the selfie showed Tibbetts to be inside. It is not clear at what time the picture was taken but the detectives say that it was taken on the same day.

Thursday, July 19

Morning: Jack sent his girlfriend a message and said he hadn't noticed that it was unread.

Afternoon: Tibbetts' coworker calls Jack and tells him that she hasn't come in for work that day and that she hasn't called in sick either. Jack starts calling her family but none of them has seen her that day.

Evening: The Des Moines Register reports that the family filed a missing persons report with the police.

Friday, July 20

Finding Mollie Tibbetts, a group on Facebook, was created to help find the missing student. The group has been used to distribute fliers and to help organize search parties. The University of Iowa released a statement saying that they are keeping a track of the situation and offered their support.

Sunday, July 22

The case goes viral on social media and many notable people including actors and athletes share information on her disappearance.

Monday, July 23

Jack says that he is optimistic that his girlfriend will be back home soon and that if she can hear him he wants to know that "I miss you so much, and I love you." Thomas Kriegel, the Poweshiek County Sheriff, told ABC News that this is the longest time anyone from the small community has been missing that he can remember. He also said that searches on foot, plane, helicopter, and kayaks have gone out to look for the 20-year-old.

Kriegel said: "We're surrounded by farm ground — corn and soy beans. Right now the corn is probably eight-nine feet tall. The only way you can search it is basically walk down every other row. It's difficult. Even the planes flying over have a difficulty looking down in the corn row."

Tuesday, July 24

The university student's brothers, Scott and Jake, speak freely of their hopes and worries in an interview with ABC News.

Wednesday, July 25

Kriegel told ABC News that Jack's alibi checks out and that it has been confirmed he is not a suspect. His brother is not a suspect either. Tibbetts' two brothers have also been ruled out as suspects. The FBI has been roped in for the investigation and an update was released that the FitBit may be a good lead to finding the missing woman.

Thursday, July 26

The authorities have searched two pig farms that are located about 15 minutes outside of Brooklyn. There are still no suspects even though the investigating agencies receive hundreds of tips every day.

Iowa DCI agent Mitch Mortvedt said: "You know, as long as we still have information coming in and we feel that we're being productive, which we feel that we are, there's been no talk about that amongst the investigative group with all the agencies involved."