The family of a 20-year-old college student who went missing two weeks ago and a local organization in Iowa have announced that $172,000 has been raised for a reward fund created to bring her home. Mollie Tibbetts' mother pleaded for anyone who may have abducted her daughter to let her go and said anyone with information on the case can come forward anonymously.
"We believe that Mollie is still alive, and if someone has abducted her, we are pleading with you to please release her," said Tibbetts' mother, Laura Calderwood.
Tibbetts has not been seen since July 18 when she went jogging in Brooklyn, the small town in Iowa where she was living. Her family reported her missing the next day after she didn't show up for work. Investigators are still trying to determine why she disappeared.
Calderwood said that her daughter's family and friends set up the Bring Mollie Tibbetts Home Safe Reward Fund, at First State Bank in Brooklyn.
"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 Thursday at a news conference.
Calderwood said the family is partnering with Crime Stoppers of Central Iowa, a local volunteer-run organization that assists in solving crimes, "to help facilitate the process of receiving information anonymously."
"It's one thing to say, 'You know what, call us and we'll protect your identity, won't tell anybody. It's another thing to say that we don't know who you are even if we wanted to know who you are," said Greg Willey, with Crime Stopppers of Central Iowa.
Crime Stoppers uses a software system that encrypts and scrubs information that comes in, "and so the only thing that's identified to that information is an ID number," Willey said.
"That tipster then will have to ... contact us back if a crime has been solved," he said. "We have no way of contacting them back."
Willey said Thursday that the reward fund will continue to grow. Donations to the fund can be made through the Crime Stoppers website.
The fund provides financial incentive to anyone who is reluctant to come forward, said Tibbetts' father, Rob Tibbetts.
"This is a fight for our daughter," he said.
Anyone with information was encouraged to call Crime Stoppers of Central Iowa at 1-800-452-1111 or visit www.crimestoppersofcentraliowa.com, where tips can be anonymously submitted.