After 9,000 hours and 900 tips, the mystery only deepens

TRUCKEE, Nevada County — The sun has risen for the seventh time over Prosser Creek Reservoir without Kiely Rodni coming home.

Planes, helicopters, divers and ground crew continued to search for the 16-year-old girl from Truckee last seen on August 5 at a party with other teenagers at a rural campground on the shore some water. The place has been a popular spot for high school parties for decades, locals say. As such meetings can do, this one reached up to 300 people, according to authorities, and yet no one seems to know what happened to Kiely.

“It’s so out of character,” Lindsey Rodni-Nieman, Kiely’s mother, told The Chronicle. “We desperately need people to tell their stories.”

Authorities have said they are treating the case as a potential kidnapping, although they have no evidence. Also missing is Kiely’s silver 2013 Honda CRV, which she drove at the rally.

Madelyn Wicks, 17, a friend of Kiely Rodni, talks about her friend while taking a break from her volunteer efforts at the Truckee Recreation Center parking lot in Truckee, Calif., Friday, Aug. 12, 2022. Kiely, 16, has missing from the Prosser Lake area since last weekend. Volunteer operations are based out of the recreation center.

Tracy Barbutes / Special for The Chronicle

Rodni-Nieman said the last time she heard from her daughter was around 11:30 p.m. that night, when Kiely texted to say she would be home a bit late. Kiely has always shared her location with her mother via a GPS app on her phone. The last ping from Kiely’s phone was at midnight at the campground, Rodni-Nieman said.

The mother was seated in a camp chair at the local recreation center where an impromptu command center stood up in the parking lot, across from officials conducting the search. Kiely’s family set up an RV where volunteers, who hailed from all over northern California, can check in to participate in the search.

Helpers were asked to download an app called Caltopo, which allows users to track their movements as they search throughout the scenic mountainous and piney region outside of Lake Tahoe. The app plots on a map where the volunteers search and relays the information to the authorities, so they know what ground has been covered.

Next to the families’ RV, a group of teenagers sat planning a Saturday concert for Kiely and all the heartbroken people who were worried about her.

Lindsey Rodni-Nieman, mother of Kiely Rodni, a Truckee teenager who has been missing for the past week, recalls the events of August 6 at the Volunteer Center in the Truckee Recreation Center parking lot in Truckee, Calif., on Friday, August 1.  12, 2022.

Lindsey Rodni-Nieman, mother of Kiely Rodni, a Truckee teenager who has been missing for the past week, recalls the events of August 6 at the Volunteer Center in the Truckee Recreation Center parking lot in Truckee, Calif., on Friday, August 1. 12, 2022.

Tracy Barbutes / Special for The Chronicle

Madelyn Wicks, 17, was among the group.

Wicks gushed about her friend Kiely, who can play “most instruments in the world”, loves cars and Starbucks, and is just “so much fun”. The two met at the Lost Trail Lodge, a backcountry retreat run by Kiely’s mother that is a popular gathering place for Truckee residents.

Last Saturday, Wicks woke up to a text from Rodni-Nieman, saying her 16-year-old son hadn’t come home. Wicks offered to check out the campground, which she did, but found nothing.

Kiely had planned to go camping with Wicks the day after the party, Wicks said. They had planned to meet at Starbucks, but Kiely didn’t show up.

Search and rescue teams from various agencies gather in an area across Highway 89 from the Prosser Family Campground in Truckee, California on August 11, 2022. They are looking for Kiely Rodni Nieman, a Missing Truckee teenager.

Search and rescue teams from various agencies gather in an area across Highway 89 from the Prosser Family Campground in Truckee, California on August 11, 2022. They are looking for Kiely Rodni Nieman, a Missing Truckee teenager.

Tracy Barbutes / Special for The Chronicle

His picture is now displayed everywhere in and around Truckee: at gas stations, restaurants, hotels, store windows. One volunteer estimated there were 15,000 flyers, each pleading with anyone who knows something to come forward.

Officials argue for the same.

Placer County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Angela Musallam said search and rescue teams from multiple agencies worked a total of 9,000 hours on the case and received more than 900 tips.

“We need the help of the community,” she told a news conference at the recreation center. “Most of the leads haven’t come to fruition, but we’re not discouraged.”

Ana Larson reaches out for support while overcome with emotion as she speaks about Kiely Rodni while taking a break from volunteer efforts at the Truckee Recreation Center parking lot in Truckee, Calif., on Friday the 12th August 2022. Larson is a family friend and family spokesperson for Kiely Rodni.

Ana Larson reaches out for support while overcome with emotion as she speaks about Kiely Rodni while taking a break from volunteer efforts at the Truckee Recreation Center parking lot in Truckee, Calif., on Friday the 12th August 2022. Larson is a family friend and family spokesperson for Kiely Rodni.

Tracy Barbutes / Special for The Chronicle

Rodni-Nieman felt numb after learning there was no news. She had run for a good week without taking a break. She said volunteers and supporters have helped her through this crisis.

Among the supporters was Cassie Hebel, a friend of Rodni-Nieman. Even as another morning turned into another afternoon without the 16-year-old’s house, Hebel insisted she would stay positive.

“We’ll find her,” she said.

Joshua Sharpe is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected]: @joshuawsharpe

Brandon D. James