Mollie Tibbetts: FBI hopeful Fitbit, social media accounts can help locate missing college student

As an University of Iowa student remains missing for a little over a week, the FBI has turned to her Fitbit watch and social media accounts in hopes of locating her. The Brooklyn, Iowa, teen disappeared last Wednesday night or early Thursday morning while dog-sitting at her boyfriend’s home, around a mile away from her own residence.

The Des Moines Register reports that 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts likely had a Fitbit watch on when she disappeared last week, which can help track the distance she’s traveled, her heart rate, and other details. Mitch Mortvedt, assistant director of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, said the FBI stepped in to help after local authorities couldn’t find her in the rural small town after an extensive search. Further, Mortvedt pointed out that he thinks this is the first time they’ve looked for data on a Fitbit for a crime investigation in Iowa.

“We are getting a lot of information back from that process. We are very hopeful with the electronic data we are getting back,” Mortvedt said. “We are relying on the FBI heavily because it’s an ever-changing world in technology……This is a new arena for us. That’s part of the reason we called the FBI in. It’s probably pretty new to them, too. I don’t know of another case here in Iowa where we have used specifically Fitbit info.”

Along with her Fitbit, authorities obtained warrants in order to search Mollie’s social media accounts, including Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram.

Mollie’s mother, Laura Calderwood, told HLN on Wednesday that additional FBI agents were on their way to join in. What started out as one agent on the case has quickly turned into numerous joining in to help find Mollie.

“That turned into approximately 15 FBI agents,” Calderwood said. “In my morning brief this morning, I have been told there’s more on the way.”

As CrimeOnline previously reported,  a University of Iowa student and avid jogger who ran on the cross-country team during high school, disappeared on early on Wednesday night or Thursday morning  from the small Iowa town of Brooklyn. Her family and friends continue to search for clues and answers, and plead for anyone with any information to come forward.

Mollie, 20, sent a message to her boyfriend on Snapchat on July 18. He opened the message at around 10 p.m. on Wednesday night, but it’s still unclear what time Mollie sent the message. It was last time anyone has heard from her, and according to her family, it’s completely out of character for her to go anywhere without checking in. She’s reportedly never had issues with anything or anyone that would spark her disappearance.

Poweshiek County Sheriff Tom Kriegel said that he “is confident that every home in Brooklyn has been visited. Every farm building, barn and shed in the area has been searched,” according to a Facebook post by Mollie’s cousin, Emily Heaston.

CrimeOnline spoke Mollie’s friend and co-worker, Emily Fenner, who said Mollie never showed up to work Thursday, which alarmed her family.

“She’s an incredibly responsible, intelligent person. When she didn’t come to work on Thursday & didn’t call in I proceeded to get ahold of her boyfriend, who was in Dubuque, IA, for work & hadn’t heard from her either. That’s when we got the ball rolling & called authorities.”

“She’s an avid runner & usually goes in the evening once it cools off,” Fenner continued. “At first we thought maybe something happened to her while on a run, but because the day camp shirt she was supposed to wear on Thursday is missing, now they’re thinking maybe something happened Thursday morning. So basically she’s probably either in running tights & sports bra or a red short & denim shorts.”

Anyone with information on Mollie’s whereabouts is urged to contact the Poweshiek County Sheriff’s Office at 641-623-5679.

[Feature Photo: Mollie Tibbitts/Handout]