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
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Missing Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts
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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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