Mollie Tibbetts, a 20 year old college student from Iowa, has been missing for three weeks. Her case has attracted an enormous amount of national attention and the current reward for any information about her disappearance stands at $300,000.
Mollie’s distraught father, Robert Tibbetts, recently told CBS News that he feels the case resonates because, "The situation with Mollie is so extraordinarily rare...it's the all-American girl who lives in a Norman Rockwell community, in love with the boy next door.”
While the exact number of missing people in the United States can be difficult to determine precisely because of the method of categorization used by the National Crime Information Center, some statistics do make clear that missing persons cases are actually not rare at all. And of the 650,000 cases opened last year, about 2.5% involved suspected abductions — about 45 a day.
What also isn’t rare? The overwhelming national attention Tibbetts’ case is receiving compared to that of other missing women — particularly women of color. Research has shown that missing white children and women receive vastly more media attention than missing people of color, something we are continually seeing play out on mainstream American news programs.
Sadly, Tibbetts' disappearance is all too similar to cases of several Black women college students and other women of color who have been missing for years, but whose cases have only received a blip of media attention, especially not from national outlets.