It’s been a solid week since 16-year-old Truckee teen Kiely Rodni disappeared from a party at Prosser Family Campground, yet authorities are no closer to finding her than they were when the initial report came in. With over 9,000 hours invested in the search, the effort continues to be exhaustive and has intensified with the arrival of the weekend.
The mood was somber at today’s press briefing as Angela Musallam, Placer County Sheriff’s Office public information officer, shared last night’s discovery of a possible burial site near the campground. A search and rescue ground team reported the find.
“Kiely’s family was notified of the potential development. The FBI responded to secure the scene yesterday and was accompanied by the Placer and Nevada county sheriffs’ offices. FBI agents investigated the site through early this morning and recovered the remains of a dog,” Musallam said. “Let me be clear. We have one team, one mission, and one goal, and that is to find 16-year-old Kiely Rodni.
Musallam said search efforts have ramped up for the weekend and confirmed that the search continues on all fronts: by foot, air, and boat. This includes ATVs, canines, and dive teams. Despite the thousands of hours and round-the-clock investigating, however, authorities still have nothing concrete to put them on a hard and fast trail to locate the teen.
“Our detectives and FBI agents continue to sort through and comb through over a thousand leads that we’ve received up until today, from the beginning of this search,” Musallam said.
Earlier today, Moonshine Ink spotted a dive team from the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office out at Prosser Lake, not far from the site of the party. Divers in full SCUBA gear submerged themselves into the water to look for any sign of Kiely or her missing Honda CR-V while a short distance down the shoreline, recreating families looked on.
Questioned about the close proximity between visitors and investigators on the water, Placer County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Sam Brown stressed that given the expansive size of the Prosser Family Campground and surrounding area, and the high volume of recreational activity taking place on and around the lake itself, without the presence of evidence indicating a crime, it’s near impossible to shut down the entire forest area.
“We don’t have evidence to say that there’s something that we’re going to locate … I think we’ve been reasonable with the areas and times we’ve had to put in stop gaps to prevent people from moving around, but we do that based off of information,” Brown said, noting that at one point, the Prosser boat ramp was closed while the vicinity was searched. “… These are tough operations and there is no right answer for everything, but that’s always a concern.”
He explained that with respect to searching the water, investigators were utilizing a phased approach: Swimmers were initially sent out along the surface using masks to search the reservoir because of the composition of the lakebed. “Once you start maneuvering the ground,” Brown said, “it’s like going through mud.
“There [are] so many levels to this. We had boats, we had side zones, which allow you to see things, certain types of fish finders, which can go lower down into the water. But at that point we still hadn’t touched the ground or anything like that,” he continued. “… Once you touch the ground you could potentially have all that earth come back up over any kind of evidentiary item. So divers were the last case scenario in the attempt because for the most part, you could go in over and over and over again, but potentially you get one shot at it.”
While divers were in the water, members of the Tahoe-Truckee Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol took to the skies after joining in the search efforts yesterday when additional CAP teams flew up from Auburn, Bakersfield, and Oakland to be eyes in the sky. According to senior member Capt. Dan Beadle, his team was responsible for searching the area to the south of Truckee Tahoe Airport toward Tahoe City. Despite some possible prospects spotted from the air, upon closer inspection, they were unrelated to the case.
“Today we have 226 searchers — a pretty astronomical number,” Brown said, adding that all of those search members were dispatched within about an hour’s time. “That’s a pretty big feat on its own. They’ve extensively been planning and prepping overnight so that when people get here, we’re ready to roll. The area has been walked, driven, flown, grid searched. They’re getting into tighter grid searching … At this point, we’re looking for small and anything evidence-wise, as opposed to cars, people, things of that nature, … We’re trying to make it even tighter.
Yesterday, Musallam conveyed the deep appreciation law enforcement officials have expressed for how deeply invested the Truckee/Tahoe community has been in coming out in full force to help with the investigation numerous ways. She was clearly disheartened, however, to share news of recent reports of adults attempting to discourage local teenagers from coming forward.
“We received reports [of] adults around the community, who we understand are dissuading people from coming forward, and that impedes our investigation. We want to find Kiely, we want to bring Kiely home to her family. And if people are out there telling people who may have valuable information to not come forward, that’s an issue,” Musallam shared at yesterday’s daily press briefing. “Again, we’re not here to arrest anybody and hold them accountable for underage drinking and drug usage. That’s not our interest right now. That won’t be our interest in this case. Our sole mission is to bring Kiely home to her family. And that’s what we want everybody to understand. We’ve been saying this from day one, it’s now day six.”
While Musallam confirmed that these reports have originated within the Truckee/Tahoe area, she cautioned that they have yet to be verified.
“If we can prove that this is actually happening — remember, these are just reports that we’re receiving — if there is solid evidence, we’ll have to pursue it,” she said. “That’s also our job. But again, right now, our sole focus and our only focus is to bring home Kiely.”
From the earliest moments of the investigation into her whereabouts, Kiely’s friends and family have joined with authorities in pleading with other teens who were at the party — a number reported to be between 200 and 300 — to come forward with even the smallest bits of information. They have guaranteed amnesty for any illegal activity drug- and alcohol-related activity that occurred during the party hours and have established telephone and email tip lines that potential witnesses can call to share information while remaining anonymous.
In an investigation that one official this week described as looking for a needle in a haystack but not knowing where the haystack is, Musallam said that sentiment still holds true, despite the 900 leads that have been called in.
“We’ve received tips from across the country — and we continue to — and at this point, our detectives are not discounting anything,” she said. “Every possibility, every option is being explored currently, as we continue to try to learn where Kiely may be and where her vehicle is located.”
In addition to the call-in and email tip lines, authorities have also established an online portal through which partygoers can easily and anonymously share photos and videos from the night of Aug. 5 into the early morning hours of Aug. 6.
“You don’t have to enter your phone number and you don’t have to enter your email address or your name,” Musallam said. “This is a strictly confidential, anonymous way for us to receive photos and videos from the Prosser Family Campground party that may assist us in locating Kiely and her vehicle.”
Anyone with information about Kiely’s whereabouts should call the tip line at (530) 581-6320, option 7. Information or tips also can be shared to firstname.lastname@example.org. All tips can be reported anonymously. There is a $50,000 reward for information leading to her safe return. Current information is available in one place at a website Kiely’s friends have set up.
Kiely Rodni is Caucasian, about 5-foot-7, 118 pounds with blond hair and hazel eyes. She has numerous piercings and jewelry, including a nose ring. She was last seen wearing green Dickies pants, a black studded belt, and a black bodysuit. Her silver 2013 Honda CRV, license plate 8YUR127, is also missing.