Mollie Tibbetts Murder: Accused Killer Cristhian Bahena Rivera Pleads Not Guilty

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The man accused of killing Mollie Tibbetts has pleaded not guilty.

Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, appeared in court Wednesday to enter the plea to the charge of first-degree murder.

Tibbetts vanished on July 18 after going for an evening run in Brooklyn, Iowa. For weeks, the search for the missing Iowa college student captivated the nation before she was found dead in a cornfield, covered in husks. 

Surveillance video given to investigators showed Tibbetts, 20, out jogging and a car following her, authorities said last month at a press conference. 

Police say Rivera, who was identified as the driver of the car, told law enforcement officers during an interrogation that he spoke to Tibbetts on July 18 and stopped his car to run along with her.

Rivera "admitted to making contact with a female running in Brooklyn and that he pursued her in his vehicle," according to a warrant for his arrest. At one point, he told authorities that she told him to leave her alone or she would use her cellphone to call police. 

Rivera said he "blocked" his memory after that and came to at an intersection, according to the warrant. He noticed that there was an earpiece from headphones in his lap and found Tibbetts in his truck, the warrant states. He then hid her body in a cornfield, according to the warrant.

Rivera eventually led investigators to Tibbetts' remains. 

An autopsy found Tibbetts had died of multiple sharp-force injuries.

Rivera's trial is scheduled to begin April 16.

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