The boyfriend of California teenager Kiely Rodni has said he is struggling to cope with news of her apparent death, admitting in an emotional video on social media: ‘It f****** hurts.’
Rodni, 16, vanished in the early hours of August 6 after attending a party at Prosser Family Campground near her home in Truckee.
On Sunday a team of volunteer divers found Rodni’s Honda SUV in 14ft of water, not far from the party in Prosser Lake. The body inside has not yet been conclusively identified, but authorities said they are confident it is Rodni.
Her boyfriend, Jagger Westfall, 18, did not attend the party and texted Rodni early in the evening, urging her to take care and be safe.
‘This was an insanely f***** up situation and still is insanely f***** up,’ said Westfall on Monday.
Jagger Westfall, 18, posted a video on social media on Monday paying tribute to his girlfriend Kiely Rodni, 16, whose car was found in a lake on Sunday. The body inside is believed to be hers
Westfall said his girlfriend would not want her friends to be sad, and said her life should be celebrated
Rodni was last seen on August 6, leaving a party she had attended with other high school graduates near Lake Tahoe, and heading home to Truckee just 12 miles away
This map shows the area (in green) cops canvassed as they searched for Kiely Rodni’s SUV. The yellow area shows the shore line. The area is about 2,000-feet from the campground where she was attending a party. Rodni’s car was found on Sunday, to the right of the original search area
He and his friends had spent two weeks searching for Rodni, desperately hoping she would show up. Police took hundreds of tips and investigated whether she had been abducted, searching the registers of known sex offenders and scouring the mountainous landscape.
‘I still don’t know how to process it and I don’t think I’m ever going to be able to process it,’ Westfall said in the clip, filmed while he drove his car.
Timeline of Rodni’s disappearance
6:08pm: Rodni is caught on surveillance camera footage at a local business in Truckee.
10pm: Rodni and her friend Mags arrive at the party at Prosser Family Campground. Before Rodni arrived, her boyfriend, Jagger Westfall, texted her complaining about his day, and adding: ‘OK. Be safe. Don’t do anything stupid.’
10:30pm: Rodni replies to Westfall, and says: ‘Oh, I’m sorry that you’re going through that.’
11:30pm: Rodni texts her mother to say that she is planning on leaving the party in 45 minutes.
12:03am: Rodni shares her location – the campground – with her mother.
12:25am: Rodni’s friend Sami sees her, gives her a hug, and says get home safe.
12:30am: SnapChat data shows a ping at the campground. Two campers witness a large number of cars drive away.
12:36am: Rodni calls Sami, asking if she still needs a lift home. Sami says she can hear music and people in the background.
8am: Rodni’s mother wakes up and realizes her daughter has not returned home.
9am: Friends wait at a Starbucks for Rodni to show up for their camping trip.
‘I know it f****** hurts, and I know it hurts all of you.
‘I just wanted to say thank you for everyone who put the effort in and tried so f****** hard to bring her home.’
Westfall said he hopes everyone lives ‘the way Kiely would want you to live.’
He added: ‘It really means a lot to me, and I’m sure it means a lot to her too.’
He said Rodni ‘wouldn’t want us to sit around sad as f*** all the time.’
‘She wants us to be happy, she wants us to be safe and she wants us to have a good life. That’s all she ever wanted for anyone,’ he said.
‘I want each and every one of you to live the way Kiely would want you to live.’
On Sunday, he posted a video of him and Rodni.
‘You were my entire world and you always will be. I will never love someone the way I loved you. I missed you even when I was holding you in my arms,’ he wrote.
‘I could never get enough of you. I Promised I would always be here for you and I still am,’ Westfall said.
Rodni’s family issued a statement on Monday paying tribute to her life.
‘We are eternally grateful for the love and support you have shown us in the last couple of weeks,’ the Rodni-Nieman family said in a statement released Monday afternoon.
‘We have weathered a storm of unfathomable force, and it is purely thanks to the army of warriors, matriarchs, healers, and helpers holding us up that we continue to stand today.
‘Mr. Rogers famously told a story of ‘looking for the helpers’ whenever he saw scary things in the news,’ the family said.
‘We have not had to look for the helpers, as you have all come to our rescue in full force. We are forever indebted to you.’
The family, which runs a small hotel near Truckee, encouraged those who knew the teenager to celebrate her life and remember her example.
‘While we accept this 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 statement reads.
‘Kiely will surely remain with us even though we will not get her back.
‘There are certain occasions when words fail. Perhaps this is why our human nature has given us art, dance, and music, which all are often more effective ways to connect us to each other and our rawest emotions.
‘Kindly excuse us as we retreat and dance privately to life’s song while we celebrate our daughter’s spirit and heal our souls.’
The silver Honda can be seen circled, marked by a red float. It was discovered on Sunday by a team of volunteer divers, using sonar technology
Rodni’s silver Honda SUV is seen on Sunday night being winched out of the lake
As the Honda edged closer, rescuers waded into the water to cover the vehicle with a purple tarp
Authorities on Monday confirmed that it was ‘most likely’ the body of the teenager, but it has yet to be formally identified.
The team from Adventures With Purpose – an Oregon-based team of volunteer divers – took two sonar boats onto the water at 10.40am on August 21, and identified Rodni’s 2013 silver Honda under the water at 11.15am.
They confirmed on Monday that the car had been found 55ft from the shore, submerged in 14ft of water in the same area that police had previously scoured.
Dive teams from Placer County, Nevada County and Alameda County were all involved in the search for the teen.
Her cell phone last pinged around 12:30am near the campground’s reservoir after she texted her mother to say she was heading back to Truckee, just 12 miles from the party.
Authorities, including the FBI, say that they scanned through nearly 2,000 tips in the two-week hunt for Rodni, and spent almost 20,000 hours looking for her.
But there were key differences between the amateur divers and the official police search:
- Adventures with Purpose have helped close 23 cold cases by using state-of-the art Garmin sonar technology, and use an inflatable boats which all have down imaging, side scan and a live scan to search deep within the water
- In comparison, authorities searching the same stretch of water days before claim that they were unable to see anything because of the nature of the lake bed, saying it was like ‘going through mud’. The water level has since receded
- Police divers started searching for the missing teen three days after she vanished from a graduation party – and spent tow days coming the body of water her car was found in
- But, they used a ‘phased’ search because they did not want to disturb the muddy lake bed and divers were a ‘last resort’
- In comparison, the amateur dive team found Rodni’s SUV within 35 minutes on the water
This map shows the area (in green) cops canvassed as they searched for Kiely Rodni’s SUV. The yellow area shows the shore line. The area is about 2,000-feet from the campground where she was attending a party. Rodni’s car was found on Sundy, to the right of the original search area
Placer County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Sam Brown confirmed that authorities had brought in Adventures With Purpose to help on the investigation because of their ‘expertise’. They added that while the department has expensive kit, substantial training may not have been carried out
She had been due to meet friends at a local Starbucks at 9am ahead of a camping trip but failed to show up – prompting her mother to sound the alarm.
Placer County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Sam Brown said at a press conference that the cops linked up with AWP after ‘realizing an interest’ and ‘reading online’.
He said: ‘We did link up Sgt Mike Powers with them, there was lots of communication as they were traveling to the area.
‘Detailed information was shared, that wasn’t out to the public yet, and hopefully that was of assistance to them to locate the area to go to.’
When asked why officers investigating the disappearance didn’t find the car when they first searched, he said: ‘The lake was extensively search with sonar, with a remotely operated vehicle, with divers and swimmers.
‘Part of what we have to do is go back and debrief. Tracking underwater is an extremely difficult thing to do.
‘A lot of this equipment is high-end, very expensive and you really need to have a lot of practice and expertise.
‘AWP are able to hone them and we appreciate them being able to come out and assist.’
Doug Bishop and Nick Rinn announced that they had confirmed the silver vehicle they discovered was the missing teenager’s
Nick Rinn, pictured, identified the car just 35 minutes after he and Bishop moved their sonar boats onto the water. The team uses state-of-the-art Garmin sonar equipment to search for vehicles in bodies of water, specifically targeting cold cases
Divers confirmed that they found Rodni’s car, a silver 2013 Honda CRV, in Prosser Lake. They identified the car by the license plate number – 8YUR127
Initially Rodni’s disappearance was being treated as a possible abduction, something which Placer County Sheriff’s department denied in a press conference.
Officers say that by not ruling out abduction as a possible reason for her vanishing, may have helped get more assistance from various agencies.
Capt. Brown added: ‘I think there was a lot of miscommunication, I don’t think it was ever labelled as abduction, but you can’t ever take that off the table.
‘You couldn’t remove it off the table, we hadn’t found her. There was some struggle with some services, we wanted to obtain things and couldn’t.
‘We couldn’t say that it wasn’t, and it was clarified very early on but we wouldn’t have received all the resources we did if that wasn’t the case.’
Adventures With Purpose announced on August 15 that they would be dropping all of their other cases to help in the hunt for the missing teenager.