Alexandria Fisher

Man Charged With Murder in Connection to Mollie Tibbetts Disappearance

The 20-year-old was last seen July 18, jogging in Brooklyn in central Iowa

What to Know

  • Tibbetts vanished on July 18 from her hometown of Brooklyn, Iowa.
  • Investigators said she was last seen on a routine jog through the streets of the city.
  • Nearly $400,000 was raised for any tip that led to Tibbetts' safe return. The fund will now likely be used for any information on suspects.

A 24-year-old man was charged with the murder of a missing Iowa college student, authorities announced at a press conference.

Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, of rural Poweshiek County, was charged with the first degree murder of Mollie Tibbetts, whose disappearance captivated the attention of the nation and sparked a month-long search in the area.

A body was discovered covered with corn stalks in a field on Aug. 21 southeast of Brooklyn, Iowa, authorities said. The identity has not yet been confirmed but is believed to be Tibbets, authorities said.

An Iowa official said Rivera is being held on federal immigration detainer, the Associated Press reported.

“Our hearts go out to the Tibbetts family and to the Brooklyn community. It is a loss for all of us,” said Poweshiek County Sheriff Tom Kriegel in a statement. “We appreciate the support for law enforcement community in their commitment to this investigation, and we thank the Brooklyn community for their support for the investigation.”

A 24-year-old man was charged with the murder of a missing Iowa college student, authorities announced at a press conference.

Authorities discovered video footage shortly after Tibbetts was reported missing from the east side of Brooklyn. The footage was from the day Tibbetts went missing and showed her running in the area. A dark colored Chevy Malibu could be seen numerous times in the area, according to the affidavit. The vehicle was “connected to” Rivera, authorities said.

According to the affidavit, police then questioned Rivera about Tibbetts’ disappearance. Authorities say Rivera admitted to “making contact with a female running” in the area.

“Rivera stated she grabbed her phone and said ‘I’m gonna call the police,’” the affidavit reads. “Rivera said he then panicked and got mad and that he then ‘blocked’ his ‘memory’ which is what he does when he gets very upset and doesn’t remember anything after that until he came to at an intersection.”

He then drove to a cornfield where he noticed there was an ear piece from headphones in his lap—which reminded him he had put the jogger in his trunk, the affidavit reads.

“He went to get her out of the trunk and he noticed blood on the side of her head,” the document says. “Rivera described he put her over his shoulder and took her about 20 meters into the cornfield and he left her covered in some corn leaves and he left her there, face up.”

Authorities say Rivera later guided them to the spot where the body, believed to be Tibbetts, was discovered.

Authorities thanked the community for its help during the lengthy investigation.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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