The desperate search for 16-year-old Kiely Rodni may finally be over after volunteer divers said that they had found her body inside an upside-down car under 14 feet of water.
But the mystery remains over exactly what happened to the California teenager after she vanished from a party at a northern California campground on Saturday 6 August.
Kiely was last seen around 12.30am that morning near the Prosser Family Campground in Truckee, the Placer County Sheriff’s Office said.
She is described as white, 5’7” tall, and 115 pounds with blonde hair and hazel eyes. She has numerous piercings and jewelry, including a nose ring, and was last seen wearing green Dickies pants and a black tank top.
The FBI, California Highway Patrol and several other local law enforcement agencies have joined the Placer Sheriff’s Office in the search for Kiely, with hundreds of investigators and K-9 units.
Yet on 21 August, a volunteer diving group called Adventures With Purpose said it had found Kiely’s body inside a sunken car in Prosser Lake. A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office said it could not yet confirm whether the body was her.
Police has asked anyone with information to reach out to Detective Stephanie Frykberg at (530) 392-5609, call the anonymous tip line at (530) 581-6320, or email Sheriff_TahoeInvest@placer.ca.gov.
Here’s what we know so far about Kiely’s disappearance.
Volunteer divers claim they found Kiely’s body
Adventures With Purpose, a volunteer group that helps find missing people underwater, said on Sunday 21 August that it had confirmed the body found in Prosser Lake belonged to the vanished 16-year-old.
A spokesperson for the Placer County sheriff’s office told The Independent that afternoon that she could not yet confirm the body’s identity, but said investigators from local police forces and the FBI were at the scene.
“We just found Kiely Rodni,” said Adventures With Purpose on its Facebook page, adding a prayer emoji and a crying face emoji.
“Car is upside down in only 14’ of water. We have CONFIRMED Kiely is inside. Family notified, law enforcement on their way.”
Even assuming the body does belong to Kiely, what is not yet clear is how and why she ended up there.
Kiely was last seen at a bonfire party
The party at Prosser Family Campground in Truckee had more than 200 teenagers and young adults in attendance, police said.
They suspect that underage drinking took place. The Placer County Sheriff’s Office said they’re not looking to charge teenagers who consumed alcohol at the party and have pleaded with them to come forward with any information that could help find Kiely.
“We’re not interested in [investigating teenage drinking], we’re only looking to find Kiely,” public information officer Angela Musullam told The Independent.
On 9 August, the Placer County Sheriff’s Office released a new picture of Kiely captured by a surveillance camera at a Truckee business about six hours before she was last seen. In the photo, the Kiely is wearing a black spaghetti strap bodysuit, green Dickies pants with a black grommet belt, and black Vans.
Kiely arrived at the party around 9.45pm on Friday 5 August, her friend Samantha Smith told The Independent . Kiely called her around 12.36am, that was the last time that she made a call, Samantha said.
She was then seen wandering around the party before she vanished. Police confirmed to The Independent that Kiely’s phone was turned off shortly after midnight.
The teenager was supposed to meet friends at 9am on Saturday to go on a hike but failed to show up.
Last phone ping places Kiely at lake’s edge
The last ping from Kiely Rodni’s cellphone has placed the missing teenager at the edge of a lake at the campground where she was last seen.
Captain Sam Brown of the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office revealed at a press conference that the last known location from Kiely’s cellphone was at around 12.30am close to Prosser Lake – the constructed reservoir that goes around the Prosser Family Campground.
He said that it is difficult to get an “exact pinpoint” for the cellphone location data and that it is also possible that the cellphone did continue to ping after that time.
“Just because it was last pinged there, that doesn’t mean that’s where the phone stopped pinging,” he said.
“The ping for the data points was near the water. It’s hard to tell an exact pinpoint.”
Divers have been searching the lake for any signs of the missing 16-year-old, but it was not until 21 August that they found anything.
Kiely was wearing sweatshirt with words ‘odd future’ the night she vanished, police say
Placer County Sheriff’s Office revealed that the 16-year-old was spotted in video footage on the evening of 5 August at the Prosser Family Campground in Truckee, California.
In the footage, she is wearing the white hoodie covered in the phrase “odd future” in pink letters.
It is unclear whether Kiely was wearing or in possession of the sweatshirt when she was last seen at around 12.30am the following morning.
However, this is the second sweatshirt the public has been alerted about in connection to the missing teenager after investigators previously revealed that she had borrowed a hoodie with the Lana Del Ray lyrics “you don’t want to be forgotten, you just want to disappear” from someone at the party.
Kiely’s last contacts
Kiely’s mother, Lindsey Nieman-Rodni, told ABC News on 9 August that her daughter texted her around midnight and said she was going to leave the party in about 45 minutes.
“I told her to be safe and that I loved her. And she said, ‘OK, mom, I love you, too,’” Ms Rodni-Nieman told ABC. “She never came home.”
Samantha said her last contact with Kiely was at 12.36am, about 20 minutes after the time she’d told her mom she would be on her way home.
Kiely’s boyfriend, Jagger Westfall, said he’d been texting with Kiely before she went to the party and told her: “Be safe. Don’t like, do anything stupid.”
Jagger also confided in Kiely about his day, receiving a final message from her at around 10.30pm where she empathised with what he had gone through.
“Then at 10.30, she responded to what I was saying, and just said, ‘Oh, I’m sorry that you’re going through that’,” he said. “And that was the last time I heard from her.”
Lindsey Rodni-Nieman spoke to The Independent earlier this month as the search for her missing 16-year-old daughter entered its fifth day and investigators are no closer to getting answers as to her whereabouts.
She said that Kiely had planned to go to a car show in Reno with her mother on Friday night but texted her during the day to say that she was going to go to a party at the Prosser Family Campground instead.
“There was this classic car show in Reno – she’s so dynamic she loves everything from playing the violin to car shows – and so she was maybe going to see some drag races with us there,” she said.
The mother and daughter talked about the plan on Friday morning – the last time they saw each other.
“Later that day, Kaily then texted saying she was going to go to a party instead of going to the car show. She’d been to the car show already and there was this party in Prosser,” said her mother.
Police believe Kiely could have been wearing jewelry when she vanished
California police also released pictures of Kiely Rodni’s jewelry.
“We’re told she always wears this type of jewelry … We’d want anybody who comes across [this necklace] to please contact us immediately because this would certainly provide us a new tip, and a new direction,” Ms Musallam said during the press conference, KCRA 3 reported.
‘She was in no state to drive’
Kiely’s friend, Samantha, who was also at the party, said that Kiely was not planning to drive back home.
“Right now we believe that is an abduction case, because she was in no state to drive and she wouldn’t have made it far or would have crashed,” she told The Independent earlier this month.
Police ask for the public’s help
Kiely’s disappearance is being investigated by authorities as a possible abduction case because her car went missing along with the teenager. She was driving a silver 2013 Honda CRV. Her phone has also been out of service since the party.
“We’re treating this as an abduction case because we cannot locate her vehicle, and that’s the only reason why,” Placer Sheriff’s Office public information officer Angela Musallam told The Independent.
Authorities offered an update on the search at a press conference on 10 August, sharing dismay at the lack of progress.
“We do not have any new leads, and that I can tell you is very frustrating for us,” Josh Barnhart of the Placer County Sheriff’s Office said.
Appealing for anyone to come forward with any form of information, Nevada County Sheriff’s Office captain Sam Brown said: “We believe that someone knows. Someone saw her but they’re not coming forward.”
Police have also made a big push to locate video evidence that would suggest more about what happened. Investigators are already in possession of clips from businesses, surveillance cameras, and Ring home security systems.
Over 1,200 have been received from the public
Investigators have received more than 1,200 tips from the public about the disappearance of Kiely.
The search entered day 10 on 15 August, with a huge amount of manpower including 307 law enforcement personnel, three air teams and two water/dive teams all drafted in to help.
In total, officials have spent 12,438 hours trying to find the teen.
Despite the number of tips, law enforcement officials and Kiely’s family are urging people who saw her at the party to come forward and share what they know.
Family pleads for help
Kiely’s mother, Lindsay Rodni, appealed to the public to come forward in a video shared on a Placer County Sheriff’s Office’s Facebook post.
“We just want her home. We are so scared. We miss her so much and love her so much. If you see this, please just come home. I want nothing more than to hug you,” Ms Rodni said.
“If you know where she is or know anything about where she might be, please come forward. We’re not looking to arrest anybody or get anybody in trouble we just want to see our daughter home.”
Police are offering a $50,000 reward for information that leads to finding Kiely. Friends of the teenager have also started a GoFundMe to increase the reward. More than $60,000 has been raised as of 21 AUgust.