Just over two weeks after Kiely Rodni mysteriously disappeared from a high school graduation party at a northern California campground, a dive team said Sunday that it found the 16-year-old dead in her overturned SUV.
Adventures With Purpose, a search-and-recovery group known for solving roughly two dozen cold cases, said a six-man dive team affiliated with the group had located the car in a reservoir. The Oregon investigators reported the discovery in a Sunday afternoon Facebook post.
“Car is upside down in only 14’ of water,” the group wrote. “We have CONFIRMED Kiely is inside. Family Notified. Law Enforcement on their way.”
The Nevada County Sheriff’s Office, one of roughly 18 agencies involved in the search for Rodni, said that it was aware of the update and was sending deputies out to meet Adventures With Purpose. “We will provide additional information when it becomes available,” the department wrote on Facebook.
The “astronomical” search for Rodni, which spanned at least two states and thousands of acres, saw police accrue 19,951 cumulative man hours and review 1,871 tips, according to figures shared by the Placer County Sheriff’s Office on Sunday.
Fears that Rodni might never be found had grown 10 days into the search, when local authorities announced that they would be scaling back search efforts to focus on the investigation.
Adventures With Purpose arrived in the area early Saturday, according to Sacramento outlet Fox 40. Using sonar, divers scoured several bodies of water, including Donner Lake and Boca Reservoir before the group said they made the tragic discovery in the Prosser Creek Reservoir, just a few hundred yards from the site where Rodni was last seen on Aug. 6.
The 16-year-old disappeared without a trace just after midnight after attending a high school graduation party at the Prosser Family Campground in Truckee. Authorities say more than 200 teens and young adults were there, drinking and doing drugs.
Magdalene Larson, who told Fox 40 she was Rodni’s best friend, said the senior farewell party was “way, way larger than ever expected,” with attendees coming from outside Truckee—something that wasn’t originally planned.
“There was a lot of guys that did approach us,” Larson, who was with Rodni, said. “Definitely, I was getting a gut feeling that during that party that something, something just didn’t feel right with the number of people that were there and how old some of these people were.”
At just 16, Rodni had just graduated from Truckee charter high school in June, her family said. In a video shared by police in the initial days of the search, her mom, Lindsey Rodni Nieman, fought back tears as she pleaded for someone to come forward with information.
“Kiely we love you, and if you see this, please just come home,” Rodni Nieman said. “I want nothing more than to hug you.”
The teen was last seen around 12:30 a.m. at the party, with the last activity on her cell phone coming three minutes later near a lake. She had texted her mom at about 12:15 a.m. to say she’d be on her way home soon but Sami Smith, another of Rodni’s close friends, told Fox News she’d been “partying” with Rodni, and Rodni was too drunk to drive home. She thought Rodni was going to stay the night at the campground instead, she said.
At least 1,200 tips flooded law enforcement’s phones, but cops struggled to get a substantial lead.
About a week into the search police spotted Rodni in a video from the party. She was wearing a pink hoodie with “Odd Future” emblazoned across it. Cops blasted out photos of the hoodie in hopes someone would spot it—either on Rodni or somewhere abandoned in the thousands of acres of woodland that surround the campground she disappeared from.
Authorities had begged the 200-plus partygoers to come forward with any information they may have about Rodni. With most attending underage, police promised that nobody would be disciplined for drinking or drug use—two things a police spokesperson said “they know occurred.”
“Our sole purpose in this investigation and search is to bring Kiely home to her family, and we need the community’s help,” Angela Musallam, a spokesperson for the Placer County Sheriff’s Office, said at a press conference Aug. 15.