A 24-year-old man has been charged in the slaying of Mollie Tibbetts, a 20-year-old who went missing more than a month ago in her hometown of Brooklyn, Iowa.
Cristhian Bahena Rivera was arrested and charged Tuesday with first-degree murder in connection with the death the University of Iowa student who has been missing since July 18. Rivera, who is an undocumented immigrant, led investigators to her body in a cornfield in rural Poweshiek County, investigators said Tuesday during a news conference.
Investigators first questioned Rivera on Monday, Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Rick Rahn said during the news conference.
Police received a video a few weeks ago showing Tibbetts running in an area of Boundary and Middle streets in Brooklyn on July 18. A car, later connected to Rivera, can be seen circling the area several times.
In an interview with investigators on Monday, Rivera admitted to making contact with a woman running in Brooklyn and that he followed her in his car in an area east of Brooklyn. Rivera said he parked his car, got out and ran behind and along side of her.
Rivera told investigators he panicked and got mad when the woman said she’d call police. He “blocked” his “memory,” something he does when he gets very upset, he told investigators.
Rivera “came to” at an intersection, made a u-turn and drove to a cornfield. He noticed an ear piece from headphones in his lap and realized he put the woman’s body in the car’s trunk, criminal complaints state.
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Once in the cornfield, Rivera then carried her about 20 meters into the field and left her there face up, criminal complaints state.
The defendant was able to use his phone to determine the route he traveled from Brooklyn, the complaints state. He guided investigators from memory to the body — tentatively identified as Tibbetts — in a field off 460th Avenue.
Rivera faces a charge of first-degree murder, punishable by a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole. The case will be prosecuted by the Iowa Attorney General’s Area Prosecutors team, Rahn said. He is being held in Poweshiek County Jail on a $1 million bond.