Man who saw Mollie Tibbetts before she vanished gets blasted with ‘demeaning’ slurs, defends himself amid accusations

Shortly after an Iowa man claimed he saw missing college student Mollie Tibbetts jogging down his street on July 18, demeaning comments about his possible, alleged involvement reportedly began pouring in.

NBC’s KWQC reports that after Devin Riley appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Thursday and announced Mollie jogging down the street in front of his Brooklyn, Iowa, home, he started getting harassed, both in person and by people on social media.

“Long stares and uncomfortable moments at the store are just the beginning,” Riley explained to KWQC. “Last I checked there were over 1,100 comments [online], and it was about 50 percent accusatory and demeaning about me.”

As CrimeOnline previously reported, Riley explained to GMA how he noticed Mollie jogging by his home at around 8 p.m. on the last day anyone heard from her. She was less than a mile away from her boyfriend’s house when Riley spotted her while he sat on his porch. He said she was wearing a neon pink sports bra, black yoga pants, and an armband for her phone.

“She jogged on the street, up the hill and there was just nothing of it until I heard someone was missing and then it really hit me that I haven’t seen that jogger since then….She was wearing like a neon pink sports bra with black khaki yoga pants and an armband with her music device, or phone … hair in a ponytail, just jogging like normal, any other day.”

Riley said he contacted the Powoshiek County Sheriff’s Office on their Facebook page shortly after he learned about Mollie’s disappearances. Authorities later searched his house for around 10 to 15 minutes. Riley described the investigators as “polite.”

Now, however, Riley said he has to defend his statements after numerous social media users questioned how he could remember such detailed information about Mollie, such as what she wore the day he saw her.

“I live in a very small town,” Riley explained. “Anyone who comes down my road I see. I guess unless you live in a small town you can’t fathom that.”

Riley said the name-calling, such as being called “killer” and “pervert” by social media users online, while other people bang on his door, has stressed him out and scared his young daughter. He reiterated that the FBI already questioned him and he has not been named a suspect in Mollie’s disappearance.

“Being called a pervert to a killer was not what I expected to hear from the public as I was only recounting what I remember from that night. How something so simple can be misconstrued into being accused hurts me.”

Timeline of Mollie’s disappearance

July 16-17

  • 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.

July 18

  • 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.

July 19

  • 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.

July 20

  • 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.

July 22

  • Authorities announce Mollie is still missing and that nothing was found during the searches.

July 23

  • 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.

July 25

  • 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.

July 26

  • 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.

July 27

  • 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.

August 2

  • 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.

August 3

  • An FBI agent goes to Cheney’s house for a second round of questioning.

August 5

  • 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.

August 6

  • Rob Tibbetts explained why his daughter, according to his own speculations, may still be alive.

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.

[Feature Photo: Mollie Tibbetts/Handout]