East Bay community prays for safe return of missing 20-year-old

A community in the East Bay is praying for the safe return of 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts, who went missing nearly two weeks ago in Iowa.

Tibbetts, a college student, hasn’t been seen or heard from since the night of July 18th in Brooklyn, Iowa. At a media conference Tuesday, authorities did not clarify if Mollie went missing after a run or sometime later that night as her family claims. Investigators said they’ve developed a solid timeline of her disappearance, but are not releasing those details. More than 200 leads have been followed up on, but no new information is being released.

Tibbetts went to Corpus Christi Elementary School in Piedmont before she moved from the Bay Area to Iowa after the second grade. Katie Murphy, Principal of Corpus Christi School, said their community feels like a family with one of their own missing.

“I’m just getting streams of calls and emails from people for two weeks,” Murphy said. “I think everyone is doing the same thing. They're just praying really, really hard.”

Murphy still remembers Mollie as the little girl who attended Catholic school in Piedmont from kinder to second grade.

“She always had a smile on her face,” Murphy said. “She always loved coming to school.”

Murphy has been checking the news twice a day and was glued to Tuesday’s media conference streaming out of Iowa.

Kevin Winker, Director of Investigative Operations for the Iowa Department of Public Safety, released few details, but said they plan to hold regular briefings every few days. Their next update is scheduled for Friday.

“We don't know where Mollie is at right now and I am not going to draw any conclusions about the circumstances of her disappearance other than it is not consistent with her past,” Winker said.

Tuesday’s update was too hard to watch for Mollie’s first grade teacher Dorothy Lee. 

“For Mollie, I just worry, where did she go that night? Was she cold, was she hungry… it's just really painful to think about that,” Lee said.

Lee remembers Mollie as a very good student who made her parents proud. She has been in touch with one of Mollie’s brothers and Murphy has emailed Mollie’s mother.

“I think there's a comfort in knowing that even out here, we're keeping her in our thoughts and prayers,” Murphy said.

The two are staying positive, knowing God is at work.

“We're a faith community so we're going to keep prayers that she turns up because somebody out there knows where she is,” Lee said.