Investigators searching for Mollie Tibbetts in Iowa have discovered the body of a young white woman in her 20s, but they do not believe it to be the missing college student, whose whereabouts remain a mystery more than two weeks after she vanished.
The unidentified woman’s remains were found in Lee County, about 100 miles southeast of Brooklyn, where Tibbetts was last seen jogging on July 18. The Iowa Department of Public Safety, however, said they have no reason to believe the body is that of Tibbetts.
Officials have vetted more than 200 anonymous tips and have searched numerous areas in the search for the University of Iowa psychology major.
Law enforcement officials have repeatedly combed through fields and hog farms in Deep River, Iowa, about a 20-minute drive from where Tibbetts was last seen, but have declined to say why they are focusing on those areas.
“As leads come in, and information is evaluated, the investigative team responds to those and prioritizes those,” Iowa Department of Public Safety official Kevin Winker told CBS News. “I would expect those searches to continue.”
Farm owner Wayne Cheney reportedly told Fox News he was questioned at least two times by investigators, whom he has allowed to search his property and cellphone, but said he would not take a polygraph test.
“I don’t even remember what they asked me,” he told WHO-TV of his interactions with law enforcement, noting he did not know Tibbetts. “It was a waste of my time, I know that.”
Cheney has previously been convicted of harassment, Inside Edition confirmed.
Authorities have not named any suspects in Tibbetts’ disappearance.
“We’re not in a position to say who is a suspect, who isn’t a suspect, or that there are suspects,” Winker said.
He also declined to confirm reports that a red shirt had been recovered near a hog farm that was previously searched. Employees of a day care where Tibbetts worked wore red shirts, according to Fox News.
Authorities warned about the danger of spreading misinformation, as armchair sleuths take to the internet to dissect clues and theories posited about the case.
“It’s a delicate balance with this information,” Winker told reporters on Friday. “But, we believe this is the right approach. We’re going to stay with this approach. We recognize that it’s frustrating for everyone involved, but we believe it gives us the best opportunity to resolve this investigation.”
As authorities continue to search for Tibbetts, the reward for her safe return has reached $260,000. Crime Stoppers of Central Iowa said Sunday that the 20-year-old’s relatives believe she is alive but may have been kidnapped.
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