Kiely Rodni presumably found after a two-week search
Click the arrow below for more coverage on Kiely Rodni, a Northern California teen who was presumably found by a volunteer team of divers after she had been missing since early August
The body found Sunday 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 Monday’s news conference in Truckee. “We have located a deceased 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 Tuesday, 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 had not 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 met 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 Rodney family. She said she always held out hope that 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 Rodney-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 a 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.
She and a friend, at one point joined the search at the Prosser Family Campgrounds. Riordan also helped volunteers post hundreds of flyers in the area.
“A lot of my friends were involved in the search,” said Riordan, who has lived in the area for about 45 years. “I have been nothing but impressed by the community support. And it really shows. Small towns, big hearts. That’s us.”
Pamela Dalton, whose granddaughter is one of Kiely’s best friends, she said she was heartbroken that it took so long to find Kiely but is glad she will go home to her mother.
“We had hopes that we would find her; we didn’t know under what circumstances,” Dalton said. “We were concerned about abduction, for the most part. After nine, 10 days went by, we were starting to think that surely she was being held against her will. There is comfort in knowing she was not being held against her will.”
Dalton attended Monday’s news conference. Her granddaughter did not attend. Dalton said her granddaughter held onto hope that her friend would be found safe, and she is very upset after hearing the news. She said Kiely was a beautiful person and a talented musical savant.
“She made a wrong turn leaving the campground, but she was on her way home just like she told her mother,” Dalton said after the news conference. “It was dark out there. If you get turned around, you can really get into trouble. And I think that’s what happened.”
A volunteer team of divers on Sunday located the vehicle and presumed body of Kiely Rodni, as law enforcement officials and volunteers continued a vast search campaign for her. Authorities had spent nearly 20,000 hours searching the area. Investigators received more than 1,800 citizen tips regarding Kiely’s disappearance.
Adventures with Purpose announced in a Facebook post that its team of divers searching in Prosser Creek Reservoir found Rodni’s vehicle upside down in 14 feet of water with a body inside the silver Honda CR-V. The diving group said it had been in the water using sonar boats for 35 minutes when they located the vehicle 55 feet offshore and less than a quarter-mile south of the campground.
Brown of the Sheriff’s Office said the hard work put in by so many law enforcement officials and volunteers should not be overlooked. He said they eliminated a lot of areas that they would’ve still been searching this weekend.
Kiely disappeared around 12:30 am on Aug. 6 after attending a party of between 200 and 300 teenagers and young adults at the Prosser Family Campground, located within the Tahoe National Forest, according to the Placer County Sheriff’s Office and Nevada County Sheriff’s Office.
The recovery area was about a quarter-mile south of the main campground area and roughly 700 feet from a dirt road that rings the reservoir.
Adventures with Purpose is an “underwater sonar search and recovery dive team helping families locate missing loved ones underwater,” according to its verified Facebook page.
Sheriff’s authorities announced Kiely as a missing person the same day she disappeared. The following day, the teen’s mother, Lindsey Rodni-Nieman, spoke out in a video posted by the Placer County Sheriff’s Office. Through tears, she pleaded for help in locating her daughter.
The Sheriff’s Office provided multiple updates each day in the immediate aftermath of the teen’s disappearance, urging anyone who might have information about the girl’s whereabouts to speak out and setting up a line for anonymous tips.
A reward established for finding Kiely rose to $50,000, then again to $75,000.
Early in the search, a Placer County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman said the disappearance was being investigated as a possible abduction because her vehicle was unaccounted for, although the California Highway Patrol never sent an Amber Alert because it was not a confirmed abduction.
Kiely’s phone last sent a signal at 12:33 am Aug. 6, sheriff’s officials said.
Prosser Creek Reservoir and Prosser Family Campground are both located on federal land within the Tahoe National Forest. State and federal agencies including the CHP and FBI assisted in search and investigative efforts.
This story was originally published August 22, 2022 11:12 AM.