Authorities hope to learn more on undocumented immigrant charged in Mollie Tibbetts death

Cristhian Rivera, charged with first-degree murder in the death of Mollie Tibbetts. (Poweshiek County Jail)

A heavy sadness weighed across Powesheik County law enforcement and Iowa communities, now grappling with the discovery of a body believed to be 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts and the person they believe is responsible for her murder.

“It is resolution, and we feel fortunate that it’s coming together the way it has, that there’s been an individual at this time charged not convicted with her murder," said Mitch Mortvedt, Assistant Director with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigations.

24-year-old Cristhian Rivera is now charged with 1st degree murder after authorities uncovered surveillance video from a home in Brookyln, Iowa linking Rivera to the night of Mollie's disappearance.

“We got the video a week or two ago, and we spent hours going through the video trying to first of all locate Mollie on it," said DCI Special Agent Rick Rahn.

The video showed a dark Chevy Malibu following Mollie on her daily jog the night of July 18. That car was traced back to Rivera, who is an undocumented immigrant believed to be living in the Brooklyn area for four to seven years.

Authorities conducted interviews with Rivera on Monday.

Court records on his arrest show he admitted to following Mollie during her run. It stated he got out of his car and ran after her.

“At one point he tells us that Mollie grabbed a hold of her phone and said, 'You need to leave me alone. I’m gonna call the police'," said Rahn. "And then she took off running. He in turned chased her down and then he tells us that at some point in time he blacks out and then he comes near an intersection which we believed he then placed Mollie.”

Authorities said he took investigators to the site of the body, which was in a cornfield near Guernsey. They were fairly confident they found Mollie.

“Some of that is investigative information that we can’t release," said Mortvedt. "However, clothing description was part of it, and general description overallinformation that Mr. Rivera had given during the interviews.”

Authorities said state examiners will be conducting an autopsy on the body Wednesday, but it could take four to six weeks before any more information is released and the body is officially identified as being Mollie.

It is still unclear if Rivera knew Mollie. According to DCI officials, he has only been on the authorities radar for the past 24 to 48 hours. They are still hoping to learn more about the suspect in the coming weeks.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off