Mollie Tibbetts' Suspected Killer Is Undocumented Immigrant

Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, has been charged with first-degree murder
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 21, 2018 1:11 PM CDT
Updated Aug 21, 2018 4:19 PM CDT
'This Will Turn Into a Weapon' to Catch Mollie Tibbetts' Killer
A poster for missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts hangs on the front door of a local business, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, in Brooklyn, Iowa.   (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Mollie Tibbetts' father confirmed the reports that emerged Tuesday morning: His daughter has been found dead. Rob Tibbetts made the confirmation to Fox News in advance of a 4pm local time news conference, at which time authorities revealed a first-degree murder charge has been filed in the case. The Des Moines Register reports the suspect is Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24. He lives in rural Poweshiek County, where the body was found; Brooklyn, the town from which Tibbetts vanished, is in that county. Rivera has reportedly lived in the area for four to seven years and is an undocumented immigrant.

  • CNN reports surveillance video helped authorities zero in on a suspect and that data from Tibbetts' Fitbit also provided clues. Officials say Rivera followed Tibbetts as she jogged and allegedly abducted her; they say he led them to a female body, which was in a cornfield and covered with cornstalks, per Special Agent Rick Rahn with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation. "For whatever reason he chose to abduct her," Rahn said.
  • An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday, and should reveal more on how and when she died, though the Register notes it could take as long as six weeks to get the results.
  • The Des Moines Register reported the property where the body was found is a roughly 15-minute drive from Brooklyn. A medical examiner vehicle and SUVs were seen at the scene, and the Register reports a no-fly restriction has been put in place by the FAA over an area that encompasses "460th Avenue near North English River just southeast of Guernsey" through early Wednesday morning.

  • Crime Stoppers of Central Iowa has been handling the massive reward fund associated with the case: The balance of the Bring Mollie Tibbetts Home Safe Fund as of last week was $385,718. The group's Greg Willey previously said the money that was to go to anyone with information that could lead to Tibbetts' safe return would likely shift into a reward for information leading to the capture of the person responsible for her death. "Once they catch their breath, this will turn into a weapon going the other direction, to catch the person who did it." It's unclear what will happen to the money now.
  • The Des Moines Register on Monday published an extensive piece on Tibbetts that pulls together beloved stories and details about her from friends and family. Her parents had liked the girl's name Grace but, upon her birth, thought she seemed just like a Mollie, and so she was named. The psychology major at the University of Iowa was described as "already everybody's counselor" by a friend. She had a love of reading and Harry Potter and was described as easy to love. Read the full piece, which has more on how she and Dalton Jack began dating three years ago, here.
(More Mollie Tibbetts stories.)

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