DES MOINES, Iowa — The reward for a missing University of Iowa student is the largest in Crime Stoppers of Central Iowa’s history. On Sunday, the organization announced the reward totals $260,000. Two days ago, donors had contributed $220,000. As the search for Mollie Tibbetts continues, the group says that number will likely keep growing.
The nationwide search for the 20-year-old student has shifted Crime Stoppers, a volunteer-led, non-profit, into overdrive.
“It’s been a rough week,” says Greg Willey, vice president of public relations for Crimes Stoppers of Central Iowa. “Everybody wants to do something. Everyone wants to feel like what they do means something in life.”
A private security employee by trade, Willey and eleven others chose to become Crime Stoppers volunteers. “We’ve got a mixture of people on board. We have stay-at-home dads, we’ve got professionals, we`ve got retired folks. It`s a pretty good melting pot,” he says.
The organization does not work out of a building. Instead the board works from where ever, whenever. Tips come through a secure server that funnels into the Polk County Sheriff’s Office who when disperses those tips to the proper law enforcement agency.
Investigators are remaining tight-lipped about the search for Tibbetts but says they have followed up on hundreds of tips and leads. The reward for information that leads investigators to the student has been collected entirely by donations. Although money talks, there are some things the organization says keep tipsters silent.
“Percentage wise , the money will get people’s attention but in reality if they feel like the can’t remain anonymous, the money isn`t worth anything to them,” Willey says.
Nearly 50 cases are posted to the non-profit’s website; several remain unsolved. Willey encourages anyone to speak up with the promise they won’t be identified, stressing the secure server doesn’t even allow for sensitive information to be processed. When making a tip, the anonymous person is given an identification number. People do not enter in their name or phone number.
“We don`t know who you are even if we wanted to know who you are because the server is scrubbed,” Willey says.
To make a donation to the recovery fund, click here.
Anyone with information into the case should call 1-800-452-1111.