‘We need answers’: Rodni family pleads for safe return of daughter
TRUCKEE, Calif. — It’s been nearly a week since Truckee teenager Kiely Rodni went missing after a party attended by hundreds of teenagers and young adults at Prosser Family Campground.
The lack of leads and clues as to what happened shortly after midnight on Saturday, Aug. 6, has left a family, a community, and law enforcement officials frustrated and in search of answers.
“We do not have any new leads and that, I can tell you, is very frustrating for us … anyone that was at the party that night, please come tell law enforcement,” said Placer County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Josh Barnhart. “Please go to the tip line. We believe that someone knows. Someone saw her but they’re not coming forward. We urge people to come forward. Again, we’ll reiterate that we’re not concerned about what was happening at the party. Our only concern is to get Kiely back.”
Rodni, 16, was last seen at the party at about 12:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 6. The last cellular data available from Rodni’s phone came at 12:33 a.m., according to officials. She is described as caucasian, about 5-foot-7, 115 pounds with blonde hair, hazel eyes and has numerous piercings and jewelry, including a nose ring. Her vehicle, a silver 2013 Honda CR-V, license plate number 8YUR127, is also still missing.
On Wednesday evening, Kiely’s father, Daniel Rodni, fought back tears as he addressed the community in Truckee, pleading for information that could help bring his daughter home.
“Kiely was born and raised here and she has disappeared,” Daniel said. “This is our community’s daughter. She is no longer just our daughter … these are the parties your kids are going to. We need answers.”
Rodni recently graduated from Forest Charter High School. The party she attended reportedly had 200 to 300 teenagers and young adults from across the region and possibly as far away as the Bay Area. According to interviews with Rodni’s friends, alcohol and drugs were part of the party.
“When your kids become 16, where are they going to go,” Daniel said. “My daughter is a straight-A student on her way to U.C. Santa Cruz. At 16, she’s 16 going to college. This is Tahoe. This isn’t supposed to happen here. We need answers. Remember, Kiely is your child too. Please, anything.”
More than a dozen agencies, including Placer County Sheriff’s Office, Nevada County Sheriff’s Office, Truckee Police Department, and California Highway Patrol are working to find Kiely Rodni. The FBI has also dedicated roughly 50 members of its personnel to the search, which has local, state, and federal agencies involved.
Despite tips flooding in, video footage, and a search that has tallied more than 3,000 man hours, officials haven’t gotten a firm lead that could lead to the whereabouts of Rodni.
“We’re struggling with clues, and so searches aren’t super successful. At this point, we have a point last seen, and we’re expanding beyond that point last seen in a systematic way,” said Nevada County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Sam Brown.
“We want to be able to supply all the right answers, especially to the family,” he added. “It’s hard to look somebody in the face and tell them you don’t have those answers.”
Brown said efforts to find Rodni have included air support, canine units, divers, watercraft, sonar, UTVs, dirt bikes, searchers on foot, and more.
Rodni’s friend, Sami Smith and a handful of other teenagers have set up Teen-To-Teen meet ups in hopes of gathering information from those that were at the party or know anything about Rodni’s disappearance. Earlier in the week, Smith said she stayed out until 10 p.m. talking with fellow teenagers.
“It’s just kids talking to kids … your kids are comfortable taking to their friends and hopefully, what we’re trying to do is that they can come to us and they can talk to us,” said Smith. “They can tell us what they saw. They don’t have to have the pressure of these cops. They don’t have the pressure of the adults. They don’t have the pressure of everything else that’s going on.”
Teenagers will remain anonymous through the meetings said Smith. For more information on contacting Smith or the next meeting, visit http://www.findkiely.com.
A tip line is also set up at 530-581-6320 option 7 or through email at email@example.com.
There is a $50,000 reward for information that results in Rodni being found. A GoFundMe campaign at http://www.gofundme.com/f/increase-kielys-reward-lets-bring-her-home has been set up to raise funds to reward anyone with information that leads to the safe return of Rodni.
One issue raised by many in the community has been the lack of an Amber Alert being issued. Local law enforcement has repeatedly stated the criteria for an Amber Alert hasn’t been met and that the issue is out of their hands due to state law. In order to be activated, and Amber Alert must have confirmation that an abduction has occurred.
Rodni’s mother Lindsey Rodni-Nieman asked that complaints about an Amber Alert not being activated be directed not at local law enforcement and instead toward government officials.
“Even if it doesn’t change (criteria) today,” said Rodni-Nieman. “Even if it doesn’t change it tomorrow or for Kiely at all. Maybe it could change it for someone else.”
While an Amber Alert hasn’t been issued, news of the disappearance of Rodni has reached a national level, something that has percolated from a groundswell of support locally.
“(Kiely) is an amazing, wonderful human. She’s funny and she’s smart. She’s interested in so many different things. She loves playing music,” Said Rodni-Nieman. “She’s so loving. She’s so warm and welcoming and quick to want to make connections with whomever she’s meeting … I truly believe that that’s one of the reasons that the local response has been what it is, because everyone who you talk to who knows her has a love and a special connection with her.”
Rodni works in the community, enjoys climbing and playing music, babysits local’s children, and is interested in science and medicine, said her mother.
“She taught herself how to make chocolate cakes from scratch when she was young,” said Rodni-Nieman. “I don’t even like cake but I like the cakes that she makes.”
Rodni was last seen wearing a black spaghetti strap bodysuit, green Dickies brand pants with a black grommet belt, and black Vans shoes, according to the Placer County Sheriff’s Department. Additionally, she was loaned a black hoodie with the words, “You don’t want to be forgotten. You just want to disappear,” inscribed on it. The quote is from a Lana Del Rey poem.
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun, a sister publication of the Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.