Who was Mollie Tibbetts: 20-year-old Iowa student who was found dead loved books, theater and deeply cared about others
20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts disappeared from her hometown of Brooklyn over a month ago and law enforcement are said to have finally found her body
More than a month after she went missing, Iowa State University (UI) student Mollie Tibbetts was found dead on Monday, according to various reports. She was just 20 years old. She went missing on July 18 when she had gone jogging in the evening at around 7:30 pm in her hometown of Brooklyn, Iowa — a small town with a population of just 1,400 — and was not heard from since.
Authorities had marked her disappearance as 'suspicious' and, soon, the news of her disappearance caught the nation's attention. Law enforcement would go on to receive over 2,300 tips about her whereabouts as national channels broadcasted the details of the case but, unfortunately, none would prove tangible enough for a breakthrough. The latest development will no doubt be heartbreaking to her family and friends, who, instead of mourning the tragic death, have chosen to remember her for the wonderful person she had turned out to be.
In a series of interviews with the Des Moines Register, those closest to her have revealed what Mollie Tibbetts meant to them. Described as the 'quintessential Iowa girl,' Mollie had always demonstrated a desire to help others, an ability to work with children, and a penchant for making anyone 'feel like the most important person in the room.' Friends say she was nurturing, approving of her choice to pursue psychology at college.
Speaking of Mollie, close friend Kayleigh Holland said: "She's already everybody’s counselor," adding: "Any problem that they had, you knew Mollie would help you fix it."
The 20-year-old was all set to start her sophomore year at UI this week, though these recent circumstances mean that that would have been the last thing on anybody's mind.
According to her parents, Rob Tibbetts and Laura Calderwood, she was a voracious reader from an early age. A popular story they like to recall is one from when they found chewed-up balls of paper on a carpet near their daughter's crib and thought they had a mice problem. Turned out it was Mollie who had accomplished the deed by chewing on a cardboard book.
Rob was in part responsible for cultivating the habit as well. As a bedtime ritual, he took to reading aloud to Mollie and her two brothers, ensuring he acted out every character in the Harry Potter books. Unsurprisingly, she grew up to be a big fan of J.K. Rowling's wizarding world, with posters from the series and quotes from Albus Dumbledore still adorning the walls of her room today.
But it wasn't just Harry Potter that she adored. She was also a fan of Patrick Ness and made time for classic literature, with books such as 'A Tree Grows in Brooklyn' and 'To Kill a Mockingbird' said to be one of her favorites. Rob says that when he entered her room, he found 'The Catcher in the Rye' on her bed.
He taught her about symbolism, metaphors, and foreshadowing, imbibing the passion for literature in his daughter. This meant that, in high school, she found her strengths in speech, theater, and writing.
She would advance from a small part in 'Willy Wonka' during her early years to the main character in 'Shrek: The Musical.' Older brother Jake Tibbetts jokingly described her theatrical ascent through school as 'from Oompa Loompa to a lead role.'
Also said to be an amazing orator, Mollie focused her speeches on topics that showed compassion for others. One year, she wrote about bullying, and another, she wrote about mental health.
In June, Tibbetts tweeted about the deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, insisting that mental illness could affect anyone. "We need to make people feel more comfortable talking about mental health," she wrote. "Be kind and understanding with everyone, including yourself."
While reports of her death are currently not conclusive, BBC reports that officials are waiting for a medical examiner to identify and confirm the remains before releasing a statement. The cause behind her death is unknown, though a subsequent autopsy should provide further insight.