An FBI profiler says that missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts likely left with someone she knew but didn’t run away to “start a new life.”
FOX News spoke to former FBI criminal profiler Mary Ellen O’Toole, who explained someone in a small town such as Brooklyn, Iowa, with a population of around 1,400, would have seen and noticed a stranger in the area. O’Toole, the current director of the forensic sciences program at George Mason University, said that 20-year-old Mollie, who disappeared from Brooklyn on July 18, probably was not kidnapped.
“To have a complete stranger to come into a small town like this, someone would have come forward and mentioned that they’ve seen this person. She was likely not kidnapped. She either got into the car of someone she knew or had a relationship with, or it was someone who had a non-threatening demeanor…..If she was just kidnapped, it would be a hard feat to pull off.”
O’Toole also explained that she thought Mollie didn’t run away to start a new life for herself, given the student’s background and history. Mollie was scheduled to start school at UI on August 20 and had plans to move into her own apartment. Mollie’s mother, Laura Calderwood, said Mollie had already picked out new bed sheets and other items from Target for her new place.
Everyone who knows Mollie has maintained that she’s positive, caring, and close to friends and family.
“She doesn’t sound like the type of girl who would run away and start a new life,” O’Toole said. “If she is as close to her mom and dad and others, she wouldn’t have just run off. It’s just not seen as something that happens.”
O’Toole touched on two press brief cancellations and why she thought investigators called the briefs off without providing an explanation to the public.
“It is unusual that they canceled. I would suspect that something could be developing and they want to put their complete focus on that. They could be serving warrants or conducting more interviews. Holding press conferences could delay an investigation. It can get in the way.”
Meanwhile, the search continues for Mollie. Over $300,000 has been raised for her safe return.
Timeline of Mollie’s disappearance
- Mollie’s boyfriend saw her for the last time on July 16, before leaving town to work at a Dubuque construction site with his brother, around 100 miles away from Brooklyn.
- On July 17, Dalton and his brother, who lives with him, drove to work. Mollie agreed to dog-sit while he was gone.
- At around 5:30 p.m. on July 17, Mollie’s brother, Jake Tibbetts, who shares a car with her, dropped her off at Dalton’s home. Mollie stayed alone while watching the dogs.
- Investigators report another neighbor reported Mollie out for a jog at around 7:30 p.m. on July 18.
- Mollie had plans to go to her mother’s house for dinner on the evening on July 18. She never showed up.
- At 10 p.m. on July 18, Dalton opened the SnapChat message from Mollie. He said it looked like she took the photo while indoors. It’s unclear when Mollie took the picture but detectives think she took it at some point on Wednesday.
- Jake Tibbetts, who has been cleared as a suspect, sends Mollie a text message at 7:30 a.m., asking if she needed the car for work. The text message was not read.
- Dalton sends Mollie a text message, wishing her a good morning. Mollie does not read the text message.
- Mollie’s mother, Laura Calderwood, sends Mollie several text messages throughout the afternoon. All text messages remain unanswered.
- Jake Tibbetts calls Laura Calderwood and says Mollie never made it to work at a daycare center. Laura calls the police.
- The Facebook group, “Finding Mollie Tibbetts,” was created. It currently has over 40,000 members.
- Hundreds of people show up in the Brooklyn area to search for Mollie.
- The Poweshiek County Sheriff’s Office announces that tips should directed to its office.
- The University of Iowa released a statement on Twitter that the school is also monitoring the incident and looking for any helpful information.
- Authorities announce Mollie is still missing and that nothing was found during the searches.
- Dalton tells ABC he’s optimistic about Mollie’s return.
- Laura Calderwood says her daughter is an “outgoing, fun, loving life, loving person.”
- Poweshiek County Sheriff Thomas Kriegel announces that no one from the “tight-knit” community in Brooklyn has been missing this long.
- Investigators continue to follow up with tips and leads.
- The family spreads the search even further by distributing flyers across the state.
- Kriegel indicates Mollie could have possibly been abducted.
- Investigators search two hog farms after following up on tips, but the searches yield no results.
- Wayne Cheney is questioned by the FBI.
- Authorities search Cheney’s home and cellphone.
- Iowa Department of Public Safety released a statement announcing that there are still no suspects but authorities will continue to pursue leads and investigate.
- A neighbor tells a local media outlet that he spotted Mollie “walking nonchalantly” down the street.
- As authorities searched an area close to the Lincoln Wildfire Reserve in Brooklyn, Iowa, someone mowing their lawn nearby discovered a red a shirt.
- The shirt was turned over to the FBI for evidence processing.
- FBI reportedly asked Cheney to take a lie detector test. He refused.
- An FBI agent goes to Cheney’s house for a second round of questioning.
- Authorities revealed there have been “hundreds” of leads and tips into Mollie’s disappearance.
- An Iowa woman’s body was found in Lee County, but despite speculation, police confirmed it was not Mollie, but instead a young woman named Sadie Alvarado, who allegedly jumped out of a moving car while arguing with her boyfriend.
- Rob Tibbetts, Mollie’s father, said he thinks she is alive and being held against her will.
Mollie has long brown hair and brown eyes, weighs around 120 pounds and stands 5-feet-2 inches tall. She was last seen wearing running shoes, a pink sports bra, and dark running shorts.
Anyone with any information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers at 800-452-1111.