Iowa officials say the number of missing young people in the state has remained the same despite widespread rumors that have arisen after the disappearance of a 20-year-old University of Iowa student.
About a dozen juveniles go missing every day, the Iowa Department of Public Safety said, but the majority of them are runaways and return within 24 hours.
“Numbers have been staying steady, and we do not see an increase in abductions,” said Medina Rahmanovic, the manager of Iowa’s Missing Person Information Clearinghouse.
The missing-persons case of student Mollie Tibbetts has prompted many residents to look at the state’s missing-persons database, Rahmanovic said.
“If you haven’t looked at that information,” she said, “you forget that 300 to 400 missing persons in Iowa is a standard — a normal, unfortunately.”
As of Monday morning, 397 people were listed as missing in the Iowa database. More than 4,000 minors were reported missing in Iowa in fiscal year 2017.
In Nebraska, about 22 people are added to the missing- persons list every day, with about 500 total people who are still missing.
Tibbetts’ case has received a lot of attention because the circumstances of her disappearance are suspicious, authorities have said. She has been missing since July 19 in Brooklyn, Iowa.
A young woman’s Facebook post claimed that Tibbetts was the “last target” of human trafficking and said seven other young women have gone missing. She warned others to be careful. Authorities have not determined what happened to Tibbetts.
The post, which the woman edited a day later to clarify that she didn’t know whether the missing women were victims of human trafficking, has been shared 33,000 times.
Rahmanovic encourages people to go to the clearinghouse website and scan the list of missing people in their community.
“If you see that juvenile on the street, you can call the local police department and that juvenile can be returned,” she said.