Kiely Rodni: Truckee police defend against criticism of search for missing teen after amateur divers find body

Authorities said they will de-brief their handling of the search with AWP

Andrea Blanco
Monday 22 August 2022 21:12 BST
Body found by divers is likely Kiely Rodni
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California authorities have dismissed criticism of their search for Kiely Rodni after a body believed to be that of the missing teen was found by an amateur diving team.

During a press conference to address the breakthrough “15ft deep and only 55ft offshore” in Prosser Creek Reservoir in Truckee, investigators said “it takes a level of expertise” to find something in a vast body of water.

Officials were questioned about how volunteer group Adventures with Purpose (AWP) was able to locate the vehicle believed to contain Kiely’s remains within the space of a few short hours in the same lake that law enforcement had been searching – unsuccessfully – for over two weeks.

Captain Sam Brown with the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office refuted claims from a diver with AWP that they were told that the lake had already been searched extensively, saying that law enforcement officials “shared maps, ping information and location” with the volunteer organisation.

“The Adventures with Purpose folks did a fantastic job at being able to locate the vehicle as quickly as they did, based on, again, a lot of heavy lifting that the folks behind me have done over the last couple of weeks,” Sheriff Shannon Moon said, as officials with California Highway Patrol and Nevada County stood behind her.

Law enforcement officials offered a plethora of reasons why they had failed to find the body in the weeks since Kiely was last seen at a party in Prosser Family Campground, which 200 to 300 teenagers and young adults attended.

The Prosser Creek Reservoir, a lake next to the campground, had previously been searched extensively by law enforcement who had spent more than 20,000 hours trying to find the missing teen.

Nevada County Sheriff Captain Sam Brown credited authorities, peace officers and volunteers for “eliminating areas we’d still be searching,” and paving a way for AWP to find the body - which has not yet been officially identified.

He also said that some of the information circulating in media reports was “deceiving.” When asked by reporters how the agencies had missed the car — said to be only 15 feet deep underwater, according to AWP — Captain Brown said that since Kiely’s disappearance on 6 August, the water level had dropped a vertical three feet and a potential 20 to 25 feet off offshore.

Captain Brown said that although local agencies had used sonar technology in an attempt to find Kiely and many volunteers, dive teams and swimmers had joined the search, AWP had an advantage in equipment and expertise.

Kiely Rodni in the hours before she vanished. A body believed to be Ms Rodni was found on Sunday

“That’s a great question and one that everybody is going to have is, how we did not find her when we were searching? ...A lot of this equipment is high-end, very expensive, and you really need to have a lot of experience, a lot of expertise,” Captain Brown said.

“I think that’s why a group like Adventures with Purpose is able to focus and practice those skills and really hone them. So we are really appreciative that they were able to come out ... also don’t want to take away from our volunteers and law enforcement.”

Sheriff Moon thanked AWP and all the law enforcement agencies, saying the thousands of tips received from the community and the cumulative authorities’ efforts had ultimately led to finding closure for the Kiely’s family.

“The amount of effort that all of these agencies put together really, truly is why we are here today,” Ms Moon said.

“And as we eliminated a lot of tips and information that was coming in, I think it’s really important to understand that all of that work did lead us to this time.”

The agencies highlighted that with the benefit of hindsight, the search for Keily seemed straightforward, but that it had taken monumental efforts from everybody involved in the search to obtain the results on Sunday.

When asked why the case had been initially treated as an abduction, Captain Brown said that it was a “miscommunication” and authorities never confirmed the abduction to the media.

When The Independent contacted the Placer County Sheriff’s Office in the early stages of the investigation, a spokesperson said the case was being treated as an abduction because Kiely’s car was missing.

Officials said that after a briefing scheduled for Monday afternoon, they will be able to say whether the equipment used by AWP to find the car had already been employed by the 16 agencies that participated in the search.

They vowed to inspect the situation and potentially work on providing further training in the future for diving teams in the force.

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