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August 02, 2018 02:50 PM

The family of missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts announced the formation of a reward fund Thursday to help find the 20-year-old who they believe is still alive.

Mollie Tibbetts, 20, was last seen alive on July 18, when someone spotted her on her regular evening jog in the small town of Brooklyn, Iowa.

At a press conference Thursday, Tibbetts’ mother, Laura Calderwood, revealed that in just one day, the Bring Mollie Tibbetts Home Safe Reward Fund raised $172,000 in reward money for information leading to her daughter’s safe return.

“We believe Mollie is still alive and if someone abducted her, we are pleading with you to please release her,” Calderwood said during the press conference. “It is our greatest hope that if someone has her, they will just release her.”

“Every day, I feel Mollie’s presence with me,” Calderwood added. “Sometimes I just feel her sitting on my shoulder. She was an incredibly strong young woman. Mollie is lending me here strength every day, every night.”

Police and volunteers have been looking for any sign of Tibbetts since July 19, when her parents reported her missing from Brooklyn, Iowa, where she lives.

Mollie Tibbetts
Poweshiek County Sheriff's Office

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On the day Tibbetts was last seen, she had been dog-sitting at her boyfriend’s house, which he shares with his brother and the brother’s fiancée, according to Fox News. After her evening jog, she returned to the home to do homework, police have said.

She also sent a text message that night about 7 o’clock, and boyfriend Dalton Jack opened a Snapchat message from her around 10 p.m. The message was a selfie that appeared to have been taken indoors, Jack has reportedly said.

Police are investigating a possible sighting of Tibbetts on July 26 at a rest stop in Missouri, about 235 miles away from Brooklyn.

Mollie Tibbetts

Law enforcement agencies including the FBI are investigating foul play.

Her father, Rob Tibbetts, urged the public to come forward with any information they may have about Tibbetts, even if they consider it trivial.

“This is a fight for our daughter,” Rob Tibbetts said. “She’s out there. We feel it. This going to be solved by someone coming forward with information. Someone knows what happened to Mollie, someone knows where she is, and they need to come forward.”

When asked what message he would offer his daughter in the event she was somewhere watching the press conference, the worried father said, “Hang in there, pie…hang in there, pie.”

Tibbetts is described as 5-foot-3-inches tall, weighing about 120 lbs., with long brown hair and brown eyes.

Anyone with information about her whereabouts is urged to email investigators at tips@poweshiekcosheriff.com or call 641-623-5679. Crime Stoppers of Central Iowa is also accepting anonymous information and tips.

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