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Investigator disputes connection between missing 11-year-old and Mollie Tibbetts' murder

Iowa DCI's Mitch Mortvedt said the only thing in common is that both Xavior Harrelson and Mollie Tibbetts lived in Poweshiek County.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Those with any information surrounding Xavior Harrelson's disappearance are encouraged to contact the Poweshiek County Sheriff's Office at 641-623-5679. 

It's been two months since 11-year-old Xavior Harrelson went missing from his home in Poweshiek County, and while the cases seem to be similar, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation believes the boy's disappearance isn't connected to the murder of Mollie Tibbetts.

Tibbetts went missing from her home in Brooklyn on July 18, 2018. Her body was found in a cornfield a little over a month later. 

Investigators are open to any possibility surrounding Harrelson's disappearance, according to Mitch Mortvedt, assistant director of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.

However, investigators believe the argument that Harrelson may have been sex trafficked is a stretch. 

An appeal filed by the defense team for Cristhian Bahena Rivera, who was convicted of murdering Tibbetts, says two inmates came forward saying a person involved in sex trafficking had killed her.

Attorneys argue this fits into a 2019 sex trafficking investigation and possibly the disappearance of Harrelson. 

RELATED: Court hears arguments on alleged new evidence in death of Mollie Tibbetts

While it may seem there are similarities between the cases, Mortvedt said the only thing in common is that both Harrelson and Tibbetts lived in Poweshiek County. 

"That's the only thing that we have come up with at this point. You know, we have nothing to indicate, at this time, that there was anything to do with human trafficking in Xavior's disappearance," Mortvedt said.

Mortvedt said DCI doesn't want to jump to any conclusion on whether or not Harrelson is alive. 

In the United States, an estimated 460,000 children are reported missing every year. 

“The vast majority of them are runaway situations and are often returned or come back home with just a matter of a few hours," said Mortvedt. "Usually within the same day.” 

However, Harrelson is not believed to be a runaway. 

“At this point, I would say no," Mortvedt said. "Again, we are open to any and all possibilities, but being gone this long, probably not.”

Mortvedt said there is more information surrounding the investigation that has not been disclosed to the public. The case is still very active even though the number of tips is slowing down. 

"It's frustrating that we haven't been able to find him. Honestly, it's just heartbreaking," Mortvedt said. "It's heartbreaking for the family, for friends, for these small communities because everybody knew him. Just like they did in Brooklyn with Mollie Tibbetts."

Until more information is revealed, community members from the Montezuma and Brooklyn area will continue to do what they can to help find Harrelson. Last month, the organizers of Mollie's Movement hosted a benefit concert to help find him.

RELATED: Benefit concert for missing Montezuma boy raises more than $5,000

Erin Johnson Foster of Indianola is also helping to organize a vigil to help bring Harrelson home. 

"We call it 'bringing him home.' Lighting the way just to kind of help his friends and family let them know we haven't forgotten Xavior," Johnson Foster said. "We're still here and we're still looking for him every day." 

That vigil will be at the Montezuma High School football field on Sunday starting at 3 p.m.

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