Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, has been charged with first-degree murder in connection with the disappearance of Mollie Tibbetts, the Iowa student who had been missing since last month.
The 20-year-old was last seen jogging in Brooklyn, IA, on July 18. Investigators recently found Tibbetts' body in a cornfield southeast of the town with cornstalks placed on top of her. Authorities are not yet able to release how she was killed; the autopsy is being conducted on Wednesday.
Rivera reportedly approached Tibbetts while she was running, and she grabbed ahold of her phone and told him to leave her alone. Investigators said he chased her down, and then he told them he "blacked out" and came to near where her body was found. He led them to the body.
"For whatever reason he chose to abduct her," Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation special agent Rick Rahn said in a press conference on Tuesday evening, adding that he couldn't say anything else about the motive. Investigators identified Rivera after his car was found on surveillance footage in the same area where Tibbetts was last seen running. Rahn said the surveillance video was "critical" in the case. He said officials approached Rivera on Monday and that he complied with them.
24 year old Cristhian Bahena Rivera has been charged with 1st degree murder. Accused allegedly told investigators he "blacked out" and came to near where #MollieTibbetts body was found. Rivera they say showed them where body was. #MollieTibbetts pic.twitter.com/4rXkfPgOqT— Josh Scheinblum (@joshshiney) August 21, 2018
Rivera is believed to have lived in the area somewhere from four to seven years and was an undocumented immigrant and employed. According to his Facebook page, he is from Mexico and has at least one family member who also lives in Iowa. Rahn said Rivera mostly kept to himself.
Rahn said that investigators have received over 4,000 leads in relation to this case, and that the investigation is still ongoing. "We are looking at a number of individuals to collect facts," he said. While investigating her disappearance, it was evident to him that Tibbetts' parents had "raised a great daughter," he said. "She was a phenomenal individual."
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