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Investigators Hope Fitbit Data Can Help Find Missing Iowa College Student Mollie Tibbetts

Tibbetts was last seen jogging along a familiar route in the small town of Brooklyn, Iowa

By Jill Sederstrom
The Search for Missing Iowa Student Mollie Tibbetts

Mollie Tibbetts was a creature of habit who often ran on regular routes. And she always wore her Fitbit.

Now, investigators are hoping data from that Fitbit could help them find the missing 20-year-old college student who disappeared July 18 while dog-sitting for her boyfriend in the small town of Brooklyn, Iowa.

She was last seen that night by a neighbor on her regular run.

"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.

Investigators are hoping data from her Fitbit could give them information about the route she took that night, and how far she ran.

They've called in the FBI to help analyze the digital footprint she left behind.

"This is a new arena for us. That's part of the reason we called the FBI in. It's probably pretty new to them, too," Mortvedt told CNN. "I don't know of another case here in Iowa where we have used specifically Fitbit info."

Investigators are also poring through other forms of electronic data such as her Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook accounts, to learn more about her activities in the days leading up to her disappearance.

The night she vanished, she sent a text at about 7 p.m. and sent a snapchat to her boyfriend Dalton Jack, according to ABC 5. He opened the message at about 10 p.m. that night.

Jack, who had been working out of town in Dubuque at the time, became concerned after he was contacted by one of her coworkers who said she hadn't come into work the following day and he realized a text and Snapchat he'd sent her that morning had never been opened.

Poweshiek County Sheriff Thomas Kriegel told ABC News Jack is not considered a suspect in the disappearance.

Hundreds of community volunteers came together on Friday to search for the missing woman, but investigators have since called off the public searches to focus on using a highly trained search and rescue team of FBI and DCI experts to look for possible clues or evidence along her possible running routes, according to The Des Moines Register.

The community continues to help by providing food for law enforcement agencies, hanging missing posters and printing T-shirts and yard signs about the disappearance, according to the Facebook group, Finding Mollie Tibbetts.

As more time passes since Tibbetts was last seen, the possibility that Tibbetts may have met with foul play grows.

"For a 20-year old to go missing and completely kind of fall of the grid as far as social media, cellphone, banking activity that kind of thing, it's obviously a very suspicious and very serious matter," Mortvedt told ABC News.

Her family continues to hope the missing college student is found safely.

"Just remember Mollie," her mom, Laura Calderwood told CNN. "Let's find her."

Tibbetts' brother, Jake Tibbetts, described his sister as a friend to everyone.

"Mollie just has the biggest heart of anyone we know," he told The Register.

The last few days, he said, have been a mixture of fear, sadness, confusion and anxiety.

"The support we've gotten from the community, from the town of Brooklyn and the surrounding areas, has just been amazing," he told the paper.

[Photo: Poweshiek County Sheriff's Office]