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Family of Missing Iowa College Student Mollie Tibbetts Believes She's Still Alive

Desperate for answers, the family of the missing University of Iowa student increased the reward to $172,000 for information about her whereabouts. 

By Jill Sederstrom
The Search for Missing Iowa Student Mollie Tibbetts

It's been more than two weeks since missing college student Mollie Tibbetts was last seen in the small town of Brooklyn, Iowa, but her family believes the 20-year-old is still alive.

"If someone has abducted her, we are pleading with you to please release her," her mother, Laura Calderwood, said in a Thursday press conference, according to CNN.

The family has also increased the reward for information about her whereabouts to $172,000.

"It is our greatest hope that if someone has her that they would just release her and claim that money that we have raised for her freedom," Calderwood said on Thursday, according to CNN.

Her father, Rob Tibbetts, believes someone in the small community of Brooklyn, Iowa may know something that is the key to finding the University of Iowa college student.

"If someone out there is holding Mollie, and they're in over their head and they've made a horrible mistake, you can end it now before it goes any further," Rob Tibbetts told The Des Moines Register.

Earlier this week, news broke that an employee at a truck stop in Kearney, Missouri believed she had seen Tibbetts last week, but after reviewing video surveillance tapes and interviewing witnesses investigators have concluded the possible sighting was not Tibbetts, according to local news station KCCI.

Tibbetts was last seen on the evening of July 18 while going for a run while dogsitting for her boyfriend in Brooklyn, Iowa. But according to family new evidence suggests she may have returned from the run and was doing homework on a computer later that night.

Investigators have not confirmed whether they believe Tibbetts was abducted. Kevin Winker, director of investigative operations for the Iowa Department of Public Safety said on Tuesday all he could say was that the disappearance "is not consistent with her past," CNN reported.

Authorities have previously said her boyfriend Dalton Jack, who was out of town for work the night she disappeared, is not a suspect.

Since she's been gone Jack told The Register he's had difficulty sleeping and has to keep himself occupied to try to keep his mind "out of the dark places."

Investigators have combed the corn fields and rural roads of the small town where she was last seen and analyzed her digital footprint including data from her Fitbit, but her whereabouts are still unknown.

Thursday afternoon the focus of the search was on an area of Poweshiek County just off Highway 21. According to KCCI, police searched a location near the small town of Guernsey and Deep River.

Poweshiek County Sheriff Thomas Kriegel has said that more than 200 leads have been investigated since Tibbetts went missing, according to The Register. Those searches have included ground, air and K-9 unit searches.

Her family is just hoping the efforts will bring Tibbetts home safely.

"We really need someone to come forward now," her father told The Register.

[Photo: Poweshiek County Sheriff's Office]