Mollie Tibbetts’ disappearance thrusts Brooklyn, Iowa into spotlight

Mollie Tibbetts’ mysterious disappearance more than two weeks ago thrust a small Iowa city into the spotlight as it scrambled for clues in the desperate search for the missing University of Iowa student.

Tibbetts, 20, was last seen in Brooklyn, Iowa. She was staying at her boyfriend’s house, watching his dogs, while he worked at a construction site almost 100 miles away in Dubuque.

The small city in Poweshiek County always seemed like a friendly, safe place to residents who lived there. Tibbetts’ boyfriend, Dalton Jack — who has been cleared as a suspect in the case — said he was “blindsided” by his longtime girlfriend’s disappearance from his home.

“It’s Brooklyn. You don’t lock your doors,” he told Fox News, later adding “nothing ever happens in Brooklyn.”

But Jack’s attitude has since shifted, along with many other residents.

“We lock our doors now. Every night,” Jack added.

Here’s what we know about Brooklyn.

It’s small

Brooklyn, located about 70 miles east of Des Moines, has a population of roughly 1,400 people.

The small city earned its name in the 1850s because it was situated between two brooks: Big Bear Creek and Little Bear Creek.

It’s not very diverse

According to 2010 census data, the most recent information available, Brooklyn isn’t a very diverse city. The majority of its residents — 95 percent — are white. There are slightly more females (54 percent) compared to males (46 percent).

Most people (57 percent) are between the ages of 18 to 64.

It bills itself the “Community of Flags”

The small city created a large display of flags in 1991 to welcome bicyclists participating in the annual Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI). The makeshift avenue of flags inspired resident Alexander Wehrle to create a permanent display.

The flag display, complete with 11 rows of five flag poles, is featured outside the Brooklyn Historical Museum on Jackson Street.

In the center of the display sits an 80-foot flag pole that proudly waves the American flag. It can be seen from portions of Interstate 80 and Highway 6, according to the city.

It’s had the same mayor for nearly a decade

Dennis “Skip” Solem was elected mayor of Brooklyn in 2009 — and he’s been re-elected three times since then. Solem, a Brooklyn native, retired from his position at the retail chain Theisen’s in 2013 and has been focusing on his government role.

“He loves kids and enjoys umpiring Little League games,” the city describes on its website.