DES MOINES, Iowa — One day after state investigators launched a website dedicated to finding missing college student, Mollie Tibbetts, the response has overwhelmed authorities.
“There’s been a lot of activity, to the point where the administration office for the State of Iowa had to get another to server to handle the volume,” Mitch Mortvedt with the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation says.
It’s estimated another couple hundred tips were submitted through the website, findingmollie.iowa.gov. Investigators have received 1,500 up to this point. However, before the information is passed on to detectives, a four person team from the Department of Public Safety works 24/7 to sort and prioritize the tips.
“It kind of goes into a two categories,” Mortvedt says. “Suggestions versus actual information that might be related to Mollie’s disappearance.”
Saturday will mark one month since the 20 – year – old was reported missing. Authorities say the amount of tips they receive daily is keeping the case from going cold.
Eastern Iowa native, Carol Kean, says she cannot stop thinking about what possibly could have happened to Tibbetts. Kean’s 18 – year – old sister, Julie Benning, disappeared from her hometown of Waverly in November of 1975. She was found four months later stuffed in a culvert along the side of the road. She had been strangled. Her case remains unsolved.
“It’s certain me to this was a local job. Most of these are local. The idea that some serial killer from far away came into a small town and took someone is less likely than someone close doing it,” says Kean.
She says not knowing is worse than knowing what exactly happened to her sister. She knows the same to be true for the Tibbetts family.
“Deep down you know they are prepared for the worst but you don`t want to go there until you have too. You’re going to keep hoping and thinking positive.”
A positive she says about the Tibbetts case, the publicity but she questions the effectiveness of a financial incentive in hopes of learning more about her disappearance.
“Does it do any good? I can’t think of a time when the reward money was cashed in to provide information that lead to a conviction or the finding of a body,” she says.
The reward to find Tibbetts stands at more than $366,000. The Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation and Crimes Stoppers of Central Iowa says it is unaware of any missing person cases that have been solved involving a reward pool.