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The investigation into the disappearance of missing California teenager Kiely Rodni has been hampered by reluctant partygoers, who haven’t come forward with what they know, according to authorities.
“People aren’t talking to us,” Placer County Sheriff’s Office public information officer Angela Musallam told The New York Post.
Musallam said she believes many of the 200 to 300 people believed to be in attendance at a large party at the Prosser Family Campground in Truckee, California are afraid they might get charged over their own “illegal activity” that night and are opting to stay silent rather than risk potential legal trouble.
“A lot of people from the party may be in college or may be just about to start college and they’re afraid they will ruin their future if they say something,” Musallam said.
The party began the night of Aug. 5 and ran into the early morning hours the next day. Rodni, a recent high school graduate, disappeared from the party around 12:30 a.m. on Aug. 6 shortly after texting her mom that she planned to be home soon.
Musallam said to date no one has come forward to say they saw the 16-year-old leave the party. Her 2013 silver Honda CRV is also missing.
Throughout the two-week search to find Rodni, authorities have continued to insist that they are only interested in information that will help them find Rodni and are not looking to punish those who may have been partying that night.
It is a stance Musallam reiterated to The Post.
“While we don’t condone that illegal activity, for the purposes of this search and investigation, that is not our priority. We don’t want to take partygoers to jail for drugs or underage drinking — we want to find Kiely,” she said.
She urged, once again, that anyone with information about the case to come forward, even if it was by providing an anonymous tip.
“We ask people who know something, do you want this to weigh on your conscience?” she said. “You will have to live for the rest of your life knowing a family won’t have closure about where their daughter is.”
The comments came shortly after authorities announced earlier this week that they were scaling back the search effort to find the teen and shifting their focus to more investigative means to find Rodni.
“We are moving into a more limited, but continuous search and rescue effort,” Nevada County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Sam Brown said during a recent press conference.
Brown called the collaborative search effort, which has brought together numerous agencies who embarked on land, ground and water searches for nearly two weeks, an “astronomical” effort but said the biggest challenge is knowing where to look for the teen.
While law enforcement investigators may be scaling back, a volunteer search and discovery dive team, Adventures With a Purpose, is on its way to lend a hand.
Lead diver Doug Bishop told KOLO that he could not disclose who had requested the organization’s help, but said they are eager to do what they can to try to find the teen.
“This case is high profile, we received thousands and thousands of messages regarding this case. We have a lot of different agents who have reached out,” he said.
The organization usually focuses on trying to solve cold cases and has used sonar equipment to solve 23 cold cases and recover over 100 vehicles in the last two years.
Although it’s unusual for them to assist in an active case, Bishop said he is hoping the group’s unique set of skills and experience with sonar equipment could help provide answers in the case.
“What makes us successful is ... we don’t have red tape that other agencies have, you know? A lot of times their hands are tied, their policies prevent them from doing certain things,” he said, adding that the organization plans to stay and help as long as they are needed.
Investigators and detectives continue to go door-to-door to try to find partygoers or potential witnesses in the case and have not ruled out any possibilities.
“All scenarios are still on the table, because we don’t know what happened to Kiely,” Musallam said.
Rodni’s mom, Lindsey Rodni-Nieman told KNTV on Tuesday she’s still hopeful her daughter will be found alive.
"We're still just waiting for her to come through the door," she said.
While investigators may be hoping for more partygoers to come forward, Rodni-Nieman said the teen’s friends have been very open with investigators and the family.
"Her friends who were there with her at the party have been nothing but so, so cooperative and so courageous in coming forward and sharing their stories," she said. "We have such a love for all of her friends and are really appreciative of them working so hard and just being so open to work with everybody and being so honest to share everything that they do know."
Rodni, who is described as being 5’7” tall and weighing 118 pounds, was last seen wearing a black spaghetti strap body suit, green Dickies brand pants, a black grommet belt and black Vans shoes. She also may have been wearing a white sweatshirt with the words “ODD FUTURE” written in pink.
She has blonde hair, hazel eyes, and a tattoo on her ribs of the number “17.”
Anyone with information about the case is urged to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call a specially designated tip line at (530) 581-6320, option 7.
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