I didn’t know Mollie Tibbetts.

I know that she grew up in Central Iowa. I know that she was a daughter, perhaps a niece, a grandchild. In short, she was an Iowa girl, and I know now that many people are grieving because at the young age of 20 she is no longer with those who knew and love her.

The headlines: “Mollie Tibbetts, Missing Iowa Student, Found Dead.” Not the outcome of the five-week long search to find the missing University of Iowa student. I guess she went out for a run one night five weeks ago, and now is coming home.

I have over the years said to Reed, “I feel a column coming on.” This is one of those times. It makes me absolutely sick to my stomach that this beautiful Iowa child is no longer alive. Some may ask, why does this happen and why here in Iowa? Isn’t Iowa supposed to be one of the best places to live? It is one of the best places to live and to raise children. I have often said that the most important thing we grow here in Iowa is our children. That hasn’t changed, and neither has the premise that bad people will always do bad things.

At one time, I worked with the Story County Attorney’s Office in Nevada as an investigator. I attended a summer of training at Georgetown University, where I learned to investigate major crime scenes for prosecuting attorneys. I worked with every law enforcement agency in Story County to help solve crimes. Does that make me an expert? Not really. I have come to the conclusion that regardless of how much we try to do as parents, grandparents, law enforcement, that bad people are going to continue to do bad things.

Is there anything we can do to keep our children safe? Yes, there are many things that can be done and we can talk about that until the cows come home. Will it make a difference? Maybe, maybe not.

There are so many questions to be asked, like what age is considered a safe age to allow children have a longer leash? Not to mean that we should keep them tied up and as they grow slowly give them more room to roam. That might not be a bad idea, but that’s not what I mean. At what age is it safe to allow a simple walk to a park, or ride a bike to get an ice cream cone, or walk to school, alone? I don’t know. With Tibbetts disappearance and eventual death, maybe 20 years old was too soon. Or not. Not my call. Apparently there is no safe age.

And who goes around killing people? Just like, who goes around shooting up schools? There just are bad people out there, and that’s when you need to take notice of your gut feeling on things. Is it really safe to go out for a run, by yourself, at any time of the day? It should be, but here again, apparently not.

I guess I would encourage everyone to use some good old common sense when making decisions to do things alone, no matter what the age or the circumstances. Examine the situation and ask yourself those hard questions. Is it really safe? Decisions can make or break a situation. Don’t put yourself or your children out there to be a target for a predator.

How do you teach a child to be safe in what they do and how they think through situations? How do we protect our children from the bad people out there? Is there safety in numbers?

What I can tell you that I learned from working in law enforcement is a couple of things. Law enforcement personnel are out there to serve and protect. But they need your help in making smart choices and decisions in what you do with your life and what you teach your children about being safe. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t, but you have to try.

The bottom line is that bad things will continue to happen to good people.

The answer on how to stop the bad people doing bad is beyond me.

But what I do know is that you cannot be too safe with your children. Tougher laws…not sure. Tougher penalties for taking a life…not sure here either.

I wish I knew. I just can’t even imagine dealing with the loss of this magnitude.

I just wish I had the answers.

Lynn Marr-Moore is a former Nevada resident and a contributing writer for the Nevada Journal and Tri-County Times.