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Crime News Breaking News

Missing College Student Mollie Tibbetts May Have Returned From Run Before Vanishing

Family members say she was doing homework on her computer the night she disappeared. 

By Jill Sederstrom
The Search for Missing Iowa Student Mollie Tibbetts

Mollie Tibbetts was last seen on a jog near her boyfriend's house on the night of July 18. But now police believe it's possible Tibbetts returned there before vanishing.

Family members say new evidence indicates Tibbetts was doing homework on her computer late on the night of July 18, according to local news station KCCI. Authorities, however, have declined to acknowledge any specific time that computer activities took place in order to prevent hindering the investigation.

Tibbetts, a 20-year-old University of Iowa student, had been dog sitting for her boyfriend in the small town of Brooklyn, Iowa, the night she disappeared. Her boyfriend, Dalton Jack, was out of town for work in Dubuque, Iowa. He has been cleared as a suspect in the case.

On the night of her disappearance, Tibbetts reportedly sent Jack a Snapchat message, which he opened around 10 p.m. The photo in the message appeared to have been taken indoors, according to KCCI, but it was not clear what time she took it.

A neighbor reported seeing Tibbetts on her regular jog earlier in the evening. Law enforcement have said they are gathering data from her Fitbit to help them retrace her steps that night.

"About the same time every evening she'd go for a run during daylight hours—well before dusk or dark, and she was seen Wednesday evening on one of her normal routes, " Mitch Mortvedt, assistant director of field operations for the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigations, told ABC News.

Tibbetts was not seen again and was reported missing after failing to show up for work the next day.

The FBI has also been brought in to assist with the case.

Since her disappearance, authorities have scoured the corn fields and rural roads of the 1,500-person Iowa town as they search for any clues to her whereabouts. According to KCCI, they even searched a nearby hog farm last week, but turned up nothing.

A reward of $2,000 is being offered for any information into the disappearance, reported KTIV.

Her father, Rob Tibbetts, said he believes the community may hold the key to finding the missing woman.

“What we need is for people to tell their friends and neighbors that if they saw anything that seemed even remotely out of the ordinary to call the authorities and they will run that down,” he told Good Morning America. “The authorities have told us again and again and again that all the similar cases like this are always solved by some tip.”

He commended the community for their support, noting that more than 400 people showed up to form a search party the day after she went missing, but asked the community to forget about consoling him and focus on finding his daughter.

“We all want her back and we’re going to have to rely on our law enforcement partners, but we can help them by driving those leads to them that are guiding this search effort and that’s all we can do,” he told the morning news show.

Anyone with information about the case is being asked to call an anonymous hotline at the Crime Stoppers of Central Iowa at 800-452-1111.

[Photo: Poweshiek County Sheriff's Office]