Missing college student, Mollie Tibbetts. Fitbit users, how detailed is the saved data?

I’ve been following the disappearance of college student Mollie Tibbetts. It’s in a very rural area that rarely sees this type of crime.

The FBI is analyizing her Fitbit.

I don’t use one. How detailed is the saved information?

Can you see your runs on a map? The exact times and duration?

Is heartrate and oxygen levels recorded? Would fear or a violent attack show as a spike in the data? Pinpointing when it occurred.

Could a smart criminal easily wipe that data? I’d guess it’s backed up on Fitbit’s servers.

My heart goes out to the family. I raised two daughters. I think of the days when we brought them home from the hospital. The long sleepless nights rocking them to sleep. Birthday parties, and all the major milestones as they grew up. I taught both to drive. They’re in college and I would lose my mind if something like this happened.

I can’t imagine how any family deals with the loss of a child.

I wish that reporter had said “wears”.

Mollie hasn’t been declared deceased yet. But, it’s been a week and that’s disturbing. :frowning:

To avoid confusion, it might be well to note that the Brooklyn mentioned in the quote is Brooklyn, Iowa.

I used to use a fitbit quite a lot, but it’s been a while. If I remember correctly, it can record time and possibly distance (based on average speed input by the user), but not direction or path followed. At least the one I had was not connected to GPS at all. Newer or better models might have that feature.

Since she would have been wearing it while jogging and therefore it would still be with her, I am assuming they must be getting the information from the cloud. That may or may not include that final run. I think (again, if memory serves) you have to sync it up on purpose, it doesn’t automatically upload everything.

Different model Fitbits record different types of information; some have GPS but many models don’t. There’s not much memory storage on the devices themselves IIRC, but assuming it’s synched to her phone the info would be on the Fitbit servers. I suspect it’s possible to erase entries, but depending on how they set up their database deleting entries might leave a record.

Here is the satellite view of Brooklyn, Iowa:

It’s difficult to see what could have happened other than disappearing voluntarily or a crime.

Odor is a sure way to find any recently deceased animal, or person.

Certainly seems like a safe place to live. Some homes may not even lock their doors. My extended family would run errands and left the house unlocked. The doors only got locked if they left for a trip.


I know the Garmin ecosphere better than Fitbit but they are similar products.

As Telemark stated, it depends upon the model what it can do. Some just count steps/activity. Others have GPS. Some have HR built in while others require the user to wear a chest strap to get HR data. I don’t know of them including breathing, but remember that HR & breathing trail activity a bit; as soon as you start running your HR hasn’t increased, nor has it slowed the moment you stop.

Pretty much all of them that are using GPS record the activity & then upload it after it’s been finished using some external connection, either wi-fi or by pairing to a phone & using the phone’s data connection. Some can be sent to do live updates, via phone but very few can do that natively (meaning w/o connecting to a phone).

IF someone were to be kidnapped during an activity, the chance of getting the data of that activity is probably slim as it hasn’t been uploaded to Fitbit/Garmin/Strava servers yet.

I didn’t realize the data update required a phone. I understand how that complicates the situation. Authorities may not see what happened on Mollie’s last run.

Reports indicate 15 FBI Agents are assigned. They should find out something.

There’s some reports that say she made it back to the house. Then disappeared shortly afterwards. Others say she never came back from the run.

Yeah, if it’s auto-syncing to a phone then it’s the phone they want to track.

Mine has no GPS are anything useful for tracking. I do ~daily manual syncing since that saves batteries. And it’s to a tablet, not a phone. She might also normally sync to a PC with Bluetooth or some such.

If my tablet doesn’t have an Internet connection, it won’t sync with the Fitbit. I consider that a flaw rather than a feature.

Even if someone somehow got several days worth of step counts, that won’t help a lot without the direction information and is completely useless if travel by something other than foot is involved (a car, a plane, floating down a river, etc).

IIRC doesn’t snapchat delete images after they’re read? It’s their gimmick to create temporary communication.

I guess law enforcement won’t have access to what could be vital information?


I had a Fitbit Charge 2 for about a year, and upgraded to an Ionic in June. The Charge 2 had no GPS capability, but if you synced it to a phone, as most people would, it could get GPS data from the phone and use it to map your walks/jogs/runs. Without syncing to the phone, though, no GPS location. The Ionic has its own GPS (although I haven’t played with it much yet), but it’s a newer, higher-end model.

Well, authorities have the fitbit data. No details released. They never do in these cases.

Mollie did make it home. This is such a strange case.

Mollie’s body was found this morning. More details will be released this afternoon at a press conference.

I had hoped the fitbit technology might have lead rescuers to her quickly. But, she probably didn’t have a model with gps.

Tragedies like this diminish us all. There’s something very wrong with a society where it’s not safe for a young woman to go jogging in her own small hometown. Murders like this creates a fear that permeates throughout out our society. It doesn’t matter that the odds say you won’t be a victim of violence. The fear is still very real and pervasive.


That article doesn’t mention it but another one I read said the boyfriend and his brother were eliminated as suspects. They were apparently out of town and their whereabouts could be confirmed. That would be the first thought for a suspect.

More details should come out at the press conference. Hopefully they have a suspect and made an arrest.

LE has searched this farm area several times in the past few weeks. Now a body has been found nearby. It’s probably not a coincidence.

I’d guess the last tracking from her phone was in that area. That’s not been confirmed by LE.

Watched the news conference.

A neighbor’s surveillance cameras had footage of Mollie running and a black vehicle near by.

That led to a suspect who confessed and he led investigators to the body.

He initially ran along side her and tried to talk. She tried to flee and he chased her down.

I’m a bit surprised because Mollie was a long distance runner. Ran on her high school track team. I would have thought she’d easily out pace and evade a non-athlete.

This will probably increase hostility toward illegal aliens and increase support for Trump’s border wall in Iowa.


Iowa supports Trump while he kneecaps the entire state’s economy and a white supremacist that has a traitor flag on his desk. It may be my home state, but it’s right on that idiot curve from Wisconsin to Kansas.

ETA: This story has been prominent on my Facebook feed since her disappearance, along with a young man named Jake Wilson, whose body was found a few days ago, as well. It’s a rough time for Iowans as a whole, and these families and communities in particular. My heart goes out to them. I can’t imagine the grief they are suffering.

I doubt the effects will be limited to just Iowa. It’s a front-page story on CNN and Fox News right now.

Somewhere else I read a comment along the lines of “that piece of shit didn’t just kill a college girl, he also killed the blue wave.”