Iowa 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts vanished on July 18 after she went out for a jog. Now, her family is pleading for her safe return. 

As Dearly previously reported, the family contacted police after Mollie’s boyfriend said she failed to respond to his text messages.

More than 40 investigators around the town of Brooklyn are now working on the case, and the reward for her safe return has since been raised to $172,000, CBS News reports.

Tibbets’ family spoke out publicly on Thursday and said they believe the 20-year-old college student is being held captive.

Her mother, Laura Calderwood, made an emotional plea to her captor. She said:

“We believe Mollie is still alive and if someone has abducted her we are pleading with you to please release her.”

She said that if the person returned her daughter, they could claim the $172,000 in reward money for themselves: 

“It is our greatest hope that if someone has her, that they would just release her, and claim that money we have raised for her freedom.”

Tibbetts’ father, Rob Tibbetts, said he thinks someone made a “horrible mistake” when they took his daughter and hopes the reward money will encourage them to come forward.

Poweshiek County Sheriff

This week, police questioned local resident Wayne Cheney, who pleaded guilty to stalking charges in 2009 and 2014. 

According to WHO, he was questioned by police for two hours and had his property searched. Cheney called the police’s focus on him a “waste of time.”

Tibbetts’ boyfriend, Dalton Jack, was ruled out as a suspect because he was working over 100 miles away at the time of her disappearance. He said on Thursday: 

“Imagine if this was you, somebody had taken your Mollie? Wouldn’t you want to help?  Wouldn’t you want her back?  How would you feel? Just do the right thing and let her go.”

Anyone with any information regarding Tibbetts’ whereabouts is asked to contact the Poweshiek County Sheriff’s Office at 641-623-5679.

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