Reward now $172,000 for safe return of missing college student Mollie Tibbetts

BROOKLYN, Iowa (WHO) -- The family of missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts and Crime Stoppers of Central Iowa have announced a dramatic increase in a reward fund.

The Bring Mollie Tibbetts Home Safe Reward Fund is now up to $172,000. The news was announced at a press conference Thursday morning in Brooklyn.

Mollie has been missing for two weeks. She was last seen while jogging on July 18th around 7:30 p.m.  and was reported missing the next day after she did not show up for work.

Both of Mollie’s parents spoke during the event. Mollie’s mother Laura Calderwood read a prepared statement detailing how much money was raised and how people can donate, and also answered questions from the media.

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Missing Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts found dead
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Missing Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts found dead
A ribbon for missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts hangs on a light post, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, in Brooklyn, Iowa. Tibbetts was reported missing from her hometown in the eastern Iowa city of Brooklyn in July 2018. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
This undated photo provided by the Iowa Department of Public Safety shows Cristhian Bahena Rivera. Authorities said on Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, that they have charged a man living in the U.S. illegally with murder in the death of Iowa college student, Mollie Tibbetts, who disappeared a month ago while jogging in a rural area. Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Special Agent Rick Rahn said that Rivera, 24, was charged with murder in the death of Tibbetts. (Iowa Department of Public Safety via AP)
A county truck blocks a gravel road, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, near Brooklyn, Iowa. Police say a body believed to be that of 20-year-old college student Mollie Tibbetts has been discovered in a rural area near where she went missing last month. University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts was reported missing from her hometown in the eastern Iowa city of Brooklyn in July 2018. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
People in the courtroom reacts after Cristhian Bahena Rivera's initial court appearance, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018, at the Poweshiek County Courthouse in Montezuma, Iowa. Rivera is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Mollie Tibbetts, who disappeared July 18 from Brooklyn, Iowa. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette via AP, Pool)
(Photo via Facebook)
Cristhian Bahena Rivera speaks with his attorney during his initial court appearance, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018, at the Poweshiek County Courthouse in Montezuma, Iowa. Rivera is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Mollie Tibbetts, who disappeared July 18 from Brooklyn, Iowa. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette via AP, Pool)
(Photo via Instagram)
A poster for missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts hangs in the window of a local business, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, in Brooklyn, Iowa. Tibbetts was reported missing from her hometown in the eastern Iowa city of Brooklyn in July 2018. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
My first experience as a best man went well🎉
Cristhian Bahena Rivera is escorted into the Poweshiek County Courthouse for his initial court appearance, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018, in Montezuma, Iowa. Rivera is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Mollie Tibbetts, who disappeared July 18 from Brooklyn, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
You guys really thought I was gonna let a birthday pass without a selfie?😎 (posting a day after but I took it on my birthday so whatever)
Just a Hawkeye with her hot guy 💛🖤
A poster for missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts hangs on the front door of a local business, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, in Brooklyn, Iowa. Police say a body believed to be that of 20-year-old college student Mollie Tibbetts has been discovered in a rural area near where she went missing last month.Tibbetts was reported missing from her hometown in the eastern Iowa city of Brooklyn in July 2018. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Happiest of birthdays to the person who made track bearable. Of all of the laps we ran together, the last one was the hardest (even if we made it the slowest) because we were ending quite an era😉 You are such a happy, hardworking, and genuine person, and I'm so lucky I get to call you my friend. Happy birthday my dude 😘😊
A ribbon for missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts hangs on a light post, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, in Brooklyn, Iowa. Police say a body believed to be that of 20-year-old college student Mollie Tibbetts has been discovered in a rural area near where she went missing last month. Tibbetts was reported missing from her hometown in the eastern Iowa city of Brooklyn in July 2018. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Cristhian Bahena Rivera is escorted into the Poweshiek County Courthouse for his initial court appearance, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018, in Montezuma, Iowa. Rivera is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Mollie Tibbetts, who disappeared July 18 from Brooklyn, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Currently wishing I was exploring water falls with best friend instead of sitting in an airport
A poster for missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts hangs in the window of a local business, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, in Brooklyn, Iowa. Tibbetts was reported missing from her hometown in the eastern Iowa city of Brooklyn in July 2018. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
I can't think of a caption but New York is cool
A poster for missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts hangs in the window of a local business, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, in Brooklyn, Iowa. Tibbetts was reported missing from her hometown in the eastern Iowa city of Brooklyn in July 2018. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Cristhian Bahena Rivera is lead into the courtroom for his initial court appearance, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018, at the Poweshiek County Courthouse in Montezuma, Iowa. Rivera is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Mollie Tibbetts, who disappeared July 18 from Brooklyn, Iowa. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette via AP, Pool)
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“We believe that Mollie is still alive and if someone has abducted her we are pleading with you to release her,” said Calderwood.

Mollie’s dad Rob thanked the media for keeping the case visible and explained why the family is okay with the limited information they’ve been receiving from law enforcement about the investigation.

“The family is holding up just fine. We are setting our personal feelings aside, this is a fight for our daughter and so we have all the tools that we can use. And I want to thank the media for coming here and helping us to share this story. Because we are told very little by the authorities, for very good reason. They are incredible partners they’ve put together an incredible investigation. It’s large it’s sophisticated, it’s aggressive and they have been nothing but sensitive to our family and to suggest otherwise is wrong.  But they are not sharing information with us because they don’t need to share information with someone who might be implicated in this,” said Rob Tibbetts.

Mollie’s mother spoke of how she believes her daughter’s strength is helping her through this tough time, “Every day I feel Mollie’s presence with me. Sometimes I just feel her sitting on my shoulder and Mollie was an incredibly strong young woman, and I don’t know that I have the strength in me but Mollie’s lending me her strength, every day, every night. And yes, I have my moments of complete meltdowns, but it is through this strength that is somehow…and I don’t know how…being bestowed on me…that I’m able to get through every morning, every noon, every night.”

The reward fund was set up with the help of Crime Stoppers of Central Iowa. Greg Willey from the organization also spoke at Thursday’s press conference. He talked about how any tips that come in will remain truly anonymous because that is how the system they use was designed.

When someone calls a tip in or enters one online, they receive an ID number that corresponds with the tip. No e-mail address, phone number, or IP address is recorded so even if Crime Stoppers wanted to find out who the tipster was – they would be unable to.

Investigators are holding a news conference at 9:30 Friday morning at the Poweshiek County Sheriff’s Office to release more about the case.

If you have any information that can help investigators locate Mollie Tibbets call 1-800-452-1111. If you would like to contribute to the reward fund – click here.

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