Man who recalls seeing Tibbetts before disappearance defends self

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BROOKLYN, Iowa (KWQC) – Devin Riley did not know what was coming after giving a nationally-televised interview regarding the July 18 disappearance of University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts.

“Long stares and uncomfortable moments at the store” are just the beginning, Riley said.

He said his daughters have been awoken by “knocks on the door with cameras” while he was at work, and it has been painful reading hundreds of unkind comments on a social media post about his interview.

“Last I checked there were over 1,100 comments, and it was about 50 percent accusatory and demeaning about me,” Riley told KWQC Thursday evening.

“Today has been beyond crazy and stressful for me and my family. I didn’t expect this reaction.”

The Brooklyn, Iowa resident and engaged father of two young girls told ABC News, “I've seen {Tibbetts} probably three to four times per week. She'd kind of jog down the street and towards the hill."

Riley added, "I thought nothing of it until I heard somebody was missing, and it really hit me that I hadn't seen that runner since then."

Riley says he told ABC “I dread that maybe I was the last person to see her" because he recalls seeing Tibbetts out jogging the same night she disappeared.

Some on social media question why Riley would specifically remember Tibbetts doing something as mundane as jogging.

“I live in a very small town,” Riley said.

“Anyone who comes down my road I see. I guess unless you live in a small town you can’t fathom that.”

Riley, who contacted investigators to share his information after he heard Tibbetts went missing, says hundreds of online commenters have jumped to wrong conclusions.

“Being called {everything from} a pervert to a killer was not what I expected to hear from the public as I was only recounting what I remember from that night,” Riley said.

“How something so simple can be misconstrued into being accused hurts me.”

Police have not yet named a suspect in a disappearance that has received extraordinary news coverage and social media attention.

Riley feels his comments and desire to be helpful have been twisted in a case with many unanswered questions.

“I said I feel dread that maybe I was the last person to see her in town, and that is a scary feeling to have,” Riley said.

“I didn’t say I think I was the last person to see her. That’s pretty ominous. I guess it’s a catchy headline, but it leaves me looking like a bad guy.”