Evie Fordham, DCNF
A Mexican national illegally residing in the U.S. has been charged with first degree murder in the disappearance and death of Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts, officials said at a press conference at Poweshiek County Sheriff’s Office in Iowa Tuesday afternoon.
Christian Bahena Rivera, 24, was charged with murder. He had resided in the area for four to seven years, officials said. He led investigators to the body’s location after confirming that he interacted with her while she was running and she felt threatened by him. Rivera said he “blacked out” at some point during their interaction, officials said.
Her body was found covered with corn stalks in a farm field near the small rural town of Brooklyn, Iowa.
First degree murder charged in Mollie Tibbetts disappearance. 24-year-old Cristihian Bahena Rivera, 24. Rivera lives in Poweshiek Co. Authorities confirm “he is an illegal alien.” pic.twitter.com/W00podixui
— KWWL (@KWWL) August 21, 2018
Officials said surveillance footage of a black SUV cruising around the area where she was last seen led them to the suspect.
“On Aug. 21, ICE lodged a detainer with the Poweshiek County Sheriff’s Office on Christian Bahena-Rivera, 24, an illegal alien from Mexico, after he was arrested on murder charges,” Immigrations and Customs Enforcement said in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation via email Tuesday.
Rivera is the only suspect facing murder charges in the case.
Mollie Tibbetts’ father, Rob Tibbetts, confirmed Tuesday morning that her body had been found.
In the 34 days since her disappearance, investigators interviewed nearly 1,500 people and tried to get clues from Mollie Tibbetts’ social media accounts and Fitbit device, reported The Washington Post Tuesday.
Mollie Tibbetts was a rising sophomore studying psychology at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. She enjoyed reading and public speaking and was a member of the Catholic Church, reported the Des Moines Register.
Vice President Mike Pence prayed with the family of the missing Iowa college student at Des Moines International Airport after he delivered a speech in Iowa’s capital city Wednesday.
“I just want Mollie’s family to know: You’re on the hearts of every American,” Pence said Wednesday.
Some new outlets are spelling the suspect’s first name “Cristihian.”