Editors Note: On August 21, 2022 remains believed to be Kiely Rodni’s were found along with her vehicle, in the Prosser Reservoir. On August 23, 2022 the Nevada County Sheriff-Coroner confirmed the belief, identifying the decent as 16-year-old Kiely Rodni, of Truckee.  

Yesterday morning, volunteer divers with Adventures With Purpose announced they had located 16-year-old Kiely Rodni’s car and some unidentified human remains in 14 feet of water about 55 feet off the shoreline of Prosser Reservoir nearby where Rodni’s phone had last pinged before she went missing Aug. 6.

The search at Prosser began at 10:40 a.m. when AWP put two sonar boats in the water, according to Doug Bishop, an AWP co-founder, speaking Monday morning at a live, videotaped briefing published on AWP’s YouTube channel.

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CLOSURE: Law enforcement officials extend a blue tarp over the top of Rodni’s vehicle to conceal any human remains that might be visible to press cameras, which hovered via helicopter and drone. Press was also set up on a nearby hill to witness proceedings as the car was pulled from Prosser Reservoir Sunday, Aug. 21.

“By 11:15 a.m. Nick [Rinn] detected an object underwater using cutting edge Garmin sonar technology,” Bishop said. “I was able to then confirm that it was in fact a vehicle … After marking the vehicle with our magnet, Nick suited up in his dive gear and conducted the dive to formally identify and assess the vehicle … Once we confirmed it was indeed Kiely’s, we immediately notified family, law enforcement — and Dad and Grandpa were on scene within minutes.”

More search details will be available as AWP edits and works with law enforcement and family to publish final, episodes on its YouTube channel. A law enforcement press briefing is scheduled for today, Monday, Aug. 22 at 11 a.m.

Adventures with Purpose is a volunteer- and donation-driven group of divers and searchers who specialize in locating underwater bodies and other implements that law enforcement can’t find. The Oregon-based group, founded in 2018 by Doug Bishop and Jared Leisek, has located a total 24 missing persons, some many months or years after their disappearance. In rare cases, they are called on for ongoing searches, as was the case with Rodni’s disappearance.

Adventures with Purpose won’t disclose which agency or person contracted them, but said they had appeals from many people who were following the search to get involved. After finishing a search mission in the Midwest, AWP divers drove their camper, boat, and gear to Truckee, where they arrived Friday night, Aug. 19.

As of this morning, there is not an official identification of the remains found in the vehicle. That will come after due process, Rinn confirmed. “An official identification of the remains will be made and announced by authorities once their investigations are complete,” Rinn said. “Please understand and respect this is a highly active investigation by the FBI and multiple local sheriff’s departments, and we are limited to the scope of details we can release.”

Community grieves

As word spread quickly in North Tahoe/Truckee on Sunday, Aug. 21, that 16-year-old Kiely Rodni’s car was fund sunken upside down in Prosser Reservoir that morning, locals cried in shock, relief, and pain.

“It’s good the family can have closure,” said Roxanne Duffield, a Truckee resident attending Sunday evening’s Concerts at Commons Beach in Tahoe City, adding that she wished the incident hadn’t happened in the first place. The performer that night — already scheduled — was the Dead Winter Carpenters, a North Tahoe group that had played a free concert in Truckee on Aug. 10 to offer healing music to the grieving community. One of the group’s lead musicians, Jenni Charles, had been Rodni’s music teacher.

On Commons Beach Sunday evening, the band sang a special tribute song to Rodni. Band co-founder, Jesse Dunn, said it would be the first and last time they’ll sing it.

At the end of their final set, band members led hundreds of concert-goers who were scattered across the Commons Beach lawn and sand to face the lake and raise their hands high to honor Rodni.

Sad conclusion

The action ended a two-week search involving hundreds of law enforcement officials (Placer County, Nevada County, Town of Truckee Police Department, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation) and volunteers using all-terrain vehicles, aircraft, dirt bikes, mountain bikes, and diving equipment to look for clues to Rodni’s whereabouts. The 5’7” blond graduate of Truckee’s Forest Charter School had appeared to vanish without a trace after an outdoor party of young people at a popular gathering spot on the edge of Prosser Reservoir. The party, which began the evening of Aug. 5 and went into the morning hours of Aug. 6., had been promoted widely on social media, and it was reported that at least 250 people attended, many from as far away as the Bay Area. Early statements from party-goers indicated alcohol and drugs were involved.

According to law enforcement information, which was disseminated in daily briefings, Rodni sent a text late Friday night to her mother, Lindsey Rodni-Nieman, saying she’d be home soon. Rodni did not arrive home, and the next day law enforcement and volunteers began what became an intense multi-day search for the girl, her phone, and her missing car, a silver Honda CR-V.

PROCEDURES FOLLOWED: Law enforcement officials from multiple agencies supervise the extraction of Kiely Rodni’s vehicle from Prosser Reservoir Aug. 21, taking time to follow procedures.

When FBI were called in less than 48 hours after Rodni’s disappearance, rumors flew both locally and on the internet as social media pages lit up with condolences, hypotheses, and conspiracy theories. FBI searchers eventually numbered 50. Residents wanted to know if Rodni had been victim of a predator — an abduction, perhaps — but law enforcement officials could share little information as they didn’t want to pollute the investigation, they said.

What was undisputed was the immense public support given for the search. At press briefings law enforcement, some visibly shaken, have pleaded for tips and clues. More than 1,000 tips did come in. Residents provided support in droves, not only shelling out funds on a GoFundMe page set up for Rodni’s family (donations varied from $25 to $5,000), but also a reward offer of $50K that quickly rose to $75K after a single anonymous person donated $25K.

Author

  • Laura Read

    A 32-year Lake Tahoe resident, Laura Read is a freelance writer and editor who's published essays, travel stories, and features in Moonshine Ink, the San Francisco Chronicle, National Geographic Traveler, Sierra, MIT Technology Review, The Furrow, and others. She edited the Wolfdale's Cuisine Unique cookbook by Douglas Dale and copy edited Hans Burkhart's memoir, Above and Beyond - My Life Giving the World a Lift. She lives in Tahoe City.

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