By Juliana Demarest and Kyra Mattson
All possibilities are still on the table in the search for missing Truckee teen Kiely Rodni, law enforcement officials said during an Aug. 9 press conference. The 16-year-old’s disappearance in the early morning hours of Aug. 6 following a party near the Prosser Family Campground is grabbing national headlines as authorities continue to collect and prioritize leads.
Detective Sgt. Scott Alford of the Placer County Sheriff’s Office urged anyone with any information to come forward and report it to a tip line at (530) 581-6320, option 7. Callers can remain anonymous, he stressed.
“We’re using every tactic we can to try to get any information that might help further our investigation,” he said. “If you think you have information and you don’t know if it’s relevant, we want it. We want any information because we’ll follow up on any and every lead that we can.”
Eighteen-year-old Sami Smith, a close friend of Kiely’s, is working alongside authorities. Smith is specifically asking other teenagers to come forward with any information and possible clues about Kiely’s disappearance. She wants other teenagers to know they can anonymously come to her with any information. Smith stressed that those who attended the party will not get in trouble for any information they share; the goal is simply to put together clues that can lead them to Kiely.
“These are the conversations with no parents, no media, and no adults at all. No police. Because if there’s that pressure from all of those sources on these kids, that could be what is leading them to not share information,” Smith said. “I see a lot of faces here. I know a lot of you. We go to school together. I’ve seen you around at this party. Please, please, if you have given a statement to the police, that’s fine. I don’t care. I need every single teenager here. If you are willing to, and if you can please realize how serious this is.”
Smith said a meet-up for teens who were at the party or who may have any information that could assist in the investigation, was scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m. this evening at Save Mart in Tahoe City in an effort to create a safe, anonymous environment for potential witnesses to come forth.
Sgt. Dennis Hack, search and rescue coordinator for the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office, also spoke at the press briefing.
“At this time, we have over 16 agencies involved in our search effort,” he said. “In the field right now, we have over 100 volunteers. Those volunteers are searching on foot. We’re using canines; we’re using vehicles, including motorcycles, UTVs, Jeeps, and such. We are using air assets to assist in the search, and we’re also searching on the water using boats. As of this meeting right now, we’ve logged over 1,500 man-hours in our effort.”
The sheriffs’ offices of both Placer and Nevada counties are working in concert with other agencies including the FBI, California Highway Patrol, and the Truckee Police, among others in their efforts to locate Kiely. FBI agents were making the rounds in neighborhoods throughout Truckee today — Coachland, Prosser Lakeview Estates, and Tahoe Donner among them — canvassing the area for clues and even asking residents if their security and doorbell cameras perhaps caught a glimpse of Kiely’s CRV driving by.
In charge of the unified command are Placer County Sheriff’s Capt. Troy Sanders and Nevada County Sheriff’s Capt. Sam Brown.
Brown emphasized that community support for the search is of the utmost importance, and he expressed gratitude to those in the community who continue to show their support. He noted that the agencies are trying to be as transparent as possible with the community as they continue the search and investigation.
Sanders expressed appreciation for the joint relationship between the two sheriffs’ offices and the FBI, saying, “They’ve come in to help us streamline this process, make it more efficient, and make sure we’re doing the right things based on best practices.”
He went on to add that the use of the California Highway Patrol building across from the Community Recreation Center, which has become the command center for the search effort, has been a positive because it allows the joint command center to be close to the Truckee community, and more importantly, close to Kiely’s family.
“We’re all here for one reason, and we appreciate the community’s support,” Sanders said. “We care. Many of us are parents. We’re involved, we’re committed, and we will stay committed.”
Despite the exhaustive efforts authorities are taking to try to locate Kiely, there was no new information shared at today’s press conference. Instead, the presenters repeatedly asked for anyone who saw Kiely the night of the party to share the information with searchers.
When questioned why an Amber Alert has not been issued, Alford explained that certain criteria are required to be met in order for such an alert to go out, and there is no current plan to implement an Amber Alert.
“Amber Alert is the system for notification with suspected child abduction,” he said. “Right now, we don’t have any evidence that supports an abduction. Like we said, we’re not ruling anything out.”
Kiely’s disappearance was classified as a possible abduction solely due to her age and the fact that her car, a silver 2013 Honda CRV, license plate 8YUR127, is also missing. Initial reports stated that there were no visible scratches, dents, or stickers on the car; however, the findkiely.com website established by her loved ones now states that there was a small sticker under the vehicle’s rear wiper blade.
The key to the investigation, however, seems to lie in the hands of the teenagers who attended the party, and with those who knew Kiely on a personal level or had any bit of interaction with her.
“If you have to ask yourself whether or not you should share some information about what happened, you’ve already answered the question,” said Placer County’s Sanders. “No information is too small. Every piece of information we’re going to put together to build a puzzle, to continue to push forward, to allow the machine to turn.”
Questioned why Kiely’s disappearance has generated so much attention in the way of resources, Angela Musallam, public information officer for the Placer County sheriff, said, “We want to leave no stone unturned. We take this case just like any other missing person’s case — extremely seriously. Kylie’s considered to be highly at risk right now because she is a minor and she is missing and we cannot locate her or her vehicle. We want to thank everybody who has helped us thus far, our law enforcement partners, the community, people who have come forward anonymously to try and lead us to her. And we will continue to leave no stone unturned until we bring Kylie home to her family.”
Find up-to-the-minute information at findkiely.com. Report any information to the tip line at (530) 581-6320, option 7. There is a $50,000 reward for information leading to the location of Kiely Rodni. Kiely is described as 5 feet, 7 inches with blond hair and hazel eyes and weighing 118 pounds. She has several piercings and a tattoo of the number “17” on her ribcage. She was last seen wearing green Dickies pants and a black tank top.