As the FBI announced Thursday that it was adding 16-year-old Kiely Mai Rodni to its national missing persons database, the search for the girl—who was last seen five days ago at a campground senior farewell party—continued in earnest.
Scores of people have flocked to a recreation center in Truckee, the California town from which Rodni vanished, to ask how they can help with the search, according to Cassie Hebel, a friend who spoke to The Daily Beast on behalf of the family.
“I know they’re very grateful,” she said.
It’s unclear if Kiely ever made it home from the party at the Prosser Family Campground in the early hours of Saturday morning, according to Placer County authorities. She had texted her mother, Lindsey Rodni-Nieman, from the campground saying that she would be heading home soon. “I told her to be safe and that I loved her. And she said, ‘OK, mom, I love you, too,’” Rodni-Nieman told ABC News on Tuesday. “She never came home.”
“It’s surreal, it’s horrific,” David Robertson, Rodni’s grandfather, told KNTV. “You would never think that anything would happen to you. This only happens on T.V.”
The Prosser Family Campground, where people would go hiking or dirt-biking, was viewed as “a safe place. Like a neighborhood backyard,” Rodni-Nieman told The Independent on Thursday. But the party had been far larger than past gatherings at the campground tended to be, with between 200 and 300 minors and young adults showing up to dance and socialize, according to local authorities.
In a Thursday press conference, the Placer County Sheriff’s Office said that more than 500 tips had been called in since Saturday—including from people outside California—and that investigators were following up on more than 380 leads. Despite a massive effort that now includes 16 agencies and the federal authorities, according to Captain Sam Brown of the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office, “we are still lacking clues.”
Brown explained investigators and volunteers still didn’t have “an exact spot” around which to pinpoint a search radius, which was “unusual, especially with a large object like a car,” meaning Rodni’s 2013 Silver Honda CRV, which remains missing.
“Solely” because of the missing vehicle, investigators are treating Kiely’s vanishing as a potential abduction, according to Angela Musallam of the Placer County Sheriff’s Office.
Authorities on Thursday also released new images of Kiely, including one taken roughly a month before her disappearance. In the image, she sports layered gold necklaces, which police said she was believed to have been wearing on Friday night. The 16-year-old, who had a number of piercings, including a nose ring, was also wearing a black bodysuit and green Dickies pants. She also reportedly had a gray Lana Del Ray hoodie in her possession.
The Placer County Sheriff’s Office also commended the community for coming together. It’s that community support that’s keeping Rodni-Nieman going, according to Cassie Hebel. Particularly “phenomenal” have been the cadre of kids around Kiely’s age who have pitched in to look for her—the “Teen Team,” as Hebel called them. “It’s been hard on them, but they’re working through the stress,” she explained.
Jagger Westfall, Rodni’s boyfriend, told Fox40 on Thursday that he’d texted her to “be safe” and “don’t, like, do anything stupid” just before she left for the Prosser Family Campground.
“I definitely feel like that in this current situation that she’s safe,” Westfall said. “I don’t know where she is. We don’t have anything to go off of at this point. But, I fully believe that she’s alive and well.”
Others close to Kiely don’t believe she ran away. Rodni-Nieman told The Independent that there had appeared to be “nothing out of the ordinary” with her daughter the morning of the party; a friend, Kate Cuno, told Fox40 that they had made crème brûlée hours before. “Everything was normal,” the teenager said.
Hebel told the Beast that there were few concrete details she could share on the ongoing search, but added, “There’s hope on the ground, and we’re continuously talking about how we want this miracle. But we just keep moving forward… Any minute, right? Any minute.”
The Placer County Sheriff’s Office has asked that anyone with information contact Detective Stephanie Frykberg at 530-392-5609; call the anonymous tip line at 530-581-6320; or email email@example.com.