The body found in a vehicle submerged in a Northern California reservoir is “likely” that of Kiely Rodni, local sheriff’s officials announced Monday, following a sweeping, 16-day search effort for the missing teen that involved what one law enforcement official called an “astronomical” number of resources.
While authorities could not “positively identify” the remains found inside a silver Honda CR-V pulled from Prosser Creek Reservoir on Sunday, Nevada County Sheriff Shannan Moon said officials “believe” the body was that of the 16-year-old Truckee girl who had disappeared earlier this month from a large party several hundred feet away from the discovery site. “We recovered the vehicle last night,” Moon said during news conference in Truckee. “We have located a decedent inside the vehicle. We believe it is our missing person. We have not been able to positively identify, but it’s more than likely.” Authorities said an autopsy would be performed, as well as a toxicology report. Results from those findings could take six to eight weeks to be finalized
Asked at Monday’s news conference whether there were any signs of foul play, Capt. Sam Brown of the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office said authorities could not comment on that possibility at this time. But Brown also said he had “no reason to believe” the vehicle had been anywhere else but the water since Kiely’s disappearance. Officials said the FBI is currently evaluating the vehicle and assisting in that phase of the investigation. Authorities on Monday did not release details about what might have led to the vehicle wreck
It’s still an active investigation,” Moon told reporters. “And I understand we will continue to receive lots of questions regarding our investigation. And we will release what we can. But at this time, our commitment is to this family.”
Brown said the task force searching for Kiely connected Adventures With Purpose with a Placer County sheriff’s sergeant once they learned the volunteers were interested in lending their expertise to the search. He said authorities shared with the volunteer divers detailed information about the ongoing search that hadn’t been released to the public in the hopes that it would help authorities find Kiely’s SUV. “I think that’s a great question, that’s one that everyone is going to have,” Brown told reporters. “How did we not find it when we were searching (that area)?
He said the reservoir was searched extensively with divers, sonar and other equipment. Brown said he hoped to learn more about what they might have missed when they meet with Adventures With Purpose for a debriefing during the afternoon. He said tracking underwater is an “extremely difficult thing to do,” and they hope to learn how to improve their search techniques and law enforcement’s use of high-end equipment, which Brown and AWP both said requires a lot of practice and expertise.
“And I think that’s where a group like Adventures With Purpose is able to focus and practice those skills and able to hone them,” Brown said. “We’re appreciative that they were able to come out and locate it.”
Ann Riordan, of Tahoe City, is a longtime friend of the Rodni family. She said she always held out hope Kiely would be found safe. She was initially sad and shocked after hearing Kiely’s vehicle had been found, and she’s still coming to grips with the reality. “I’m not sure how I feel. In some ways I’m really glad because the torture has been not knowing and thinking of the (worse) alternatives,” Riordan told The Sacramento Bee after the news conference.
Lindsey Rodni-Nieman and members of her family sat quietly in chairs off to the side of the 20-minute news conference. They did not speak to reporters Monday and left after the news conference ended. In written statement released hours after the news conference, the Rodni-Nieman family thanked those who showed them “love and support” over the past two weeks as they “weathered a storm of unfathomable force.” “While we accept the sadness cast under death’s shadow, the rising sun shines light upon us, reminding us not to mourn our loss, but to celebrate Kiely’s spirit and the gift that we all received in knowing her,” the family said in the statement shared on social media. “Kiely will surely remain with us even though we will not get her back.” Riordan and a group of residents from the west shore of Lake Tahoe, where Kiely grew up, attended Monday’s news conference to show their support for the teen’s family. “We just want to help, we just don’t know how,” Riordan said holding a small bouquet of flowers she brought for Rodni-Nieman.
Over the past two weeks, Riordan said she went to the Truckee community center almost every day to meet with Kiely’s family and friends, along with volunteers, searching for the missing teen.