The day before University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts vanished, she’d been teaching her campers to draw self-portraits using mirrors and kidding around with her co-workers.
A video taken on July 17 shows the 20-year-old rising sophomore wearing a tie-dye shirt and shorts, and sitting cross-legged as she laughs, holds a small red mirror up to her mouth and then sticks out her tongue.
Olivia Ritter, the fellow day-care intern at Grinnell Regional Medical Center Day Camp who shot the footage, explained that Tibbetts would regularly “make everybody laugh” with her antics.
The next day, July 18, the psychology student went out jogging in Brooklyn, Iowa — and hasn’t been seen since.
“She is just a really good person, she has such a good personality and she can literally light up the room,” said 19-year-old Ritter, who first met Tibbetts running track in high school. “It’s definitely a change in environment without her.”
Another video shared by Ritter from July 3 shows Tibbetts prancing around a gym, playfully shaking her arms and legs about.
“We were doing relay races and she was explaining doing high knees,” Ritter said. “And like her normal self, she made a goof out of it.”
When she wasn’t making her campers and co-workers laugh, Tibbetts would ensure that all the kids in her care felt welcome and loved, Ritter said.
On July 19, when Tibbetts didn’t show up for a planned field trip, Ritter said, she and the other workers assumed she was sick. But they started to get worried when they didn’t hear from her all day and their calls went straight to voicemail.
“I was scared, kinda nervous, upset stomach,” Ritter said. “It wasn’t like her to do that.”
Since then, the campers, who range in age from 4 to 14, regularly ask about Tibbetts, Ritter said. The counselors have etched her name into a large whiteboard so they always have her on their minds.
The videos Ritter took were posted by their friend Jarrett Rose to Facebook.
“Your voice echoes through my heart every day, giving me the inspiration to never give up on you. No one has, or ever will give up hope and stop searching for you!” he wrote.
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