Mollie Tibbetts Found Dead, Undocumented Immigrant Charged With Murder

Playing Suspect Arrested in Connection With Death of Mollie Tibbetts

Missing Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts has been found dead and an undocumented immigrant has been charged with her murder, according to authorities. 

Tibbetts, 20, disappeared from her boyfriend’s Brooklyn, Iowa, home on July 18 after reportedly going for a run.  

Surveillance video given to investigators showed Tibbetts out jogging and a car following her, authorities said Tuesday at a press conference. The suspect, identified by officials as 24-year-old Cristhian Rivera, told law enforcement officers during an interrogation that he spoke to Tibbetts on July 18 and stopped his car to run along with her.

According to an arrest warrant issued Tuesday, Rivera was driving a dark-colored Chevy Malibu that could be seen "numerous times driving back and forth in the area."

Rivera "admitted to making contact with a female running Brooklyn and that he pursued her in his vehicle," the warrant said. At one point, he told authorities that she told him to leave her alone or she would use her cellphone to call police. The man said he "blacked out" after that and came to at an intersection, according to the warrant. 

Tibbetts' body was found in a cornfield Tuesday covered with corn husks, about a 15-minute drive from where she was last seen on July 18, authorities said. Her cause of death and a motive for the slaying were not released.

Rivera pulled a U-turn at the intersection, the warrant said, "drove back to the entrance of a field and then drove into a driveway to a cornfield. He noticed that there was an earpiece from headphones in his lap and "that is how he realized he put her in the trunk," the affidavit said.

Investigators combed the video for days, authorities said, and questioned Rivera for the first time on Monday.

He told authorities he got Mollie out of the trunk and dragged her by foot to a secluded location in the cornfield, the document said. "He put her over his shoulder" and laid her body face-up and covered her with corn leaves. 

He guided investigators to her body on Tuesday, authorities said.

"The deceased female is Mollie Tibbets," the warrant concludes. Rivera was "compliant" during his interrogation and said he often blacks out when he becomes angry, the document said.  

Rivera is being held in lieu of $1 million cash bail at the Poweshiek County Jail.

Over the weekend, Tibbets' family had been told to return to their lives after five weeks of searching for the woman, who would have been a sophomore in the fall at the University of Iowa. 

"Very reluctantly, I'm being told I sort of need to do this," Mollie's father, Rob Tibbetts, told KCRG-TV9 Saturday. 

Authorities had reportedly received more than 2,300 tips since Mollie was reported missing. 

Rob Tibbetts previously said he thought his daughter was alive and with someone she trusted. 

“The bottom line is somebody knows something," he previously said in a Fox News interview. 

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