Suspect in Mollie Tibbetts Killing Confessed, Claims He Doesn't Remember Murder
BROOKLYN, IA — Police have arrested a suspect in the murder of Mollie Tibbetts, a 20-year-old University of Iowa student who went missing after going for a jog on July 18.
The suspect, Christihan Bahena Rivera, 24, reportedly led investigators to Mollie’s body in a cornfield on Tuesday. He has been charged with first-degree murder.
At a press conference on Tuesday evening, Rick Rahn of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (IDCI) said that the break in the case came from security cameras that captured Rivera’s Chevy Malibu being in the vicinity when Mollie vanished.
Prior to that, investigators had been focusing on social media and information tracked by Mollie’s Fitbit fitness tracker, which she wore while jogging. The device provided police with the details of the route she was running up until she disappeared.
Investigators approached Rivera on Monday. He reportedly confessed to the killing and took officers to Mollie’s remains, which were covered in cornstalks in Guernsey, Iowa, about 15 minutes southeast of where the victim had started jogging.
Allegedly, Rivera told authorites he circled around Mollie with his car several times while she was running in Brooklyn, then got out and started running alongside her. She apparently told him to leave her alone or she would call the police.
From there, Rivera said he “got angry” and chased Mollie down, but he then “blacked out” and doesn’t remember what exactly happened. He claims the next thing he recalls is coming out of the blackout and realizing that Mollie was in his trunk, after which he dumped her body in the cornfield.
Rahn added that Rivera is an undocumented immigrant who had lived in the area for “four to seven years” and “kept to himself.”
Upon being detained, Rahn described Rivera as “very compliant,” and added, “He was willing to talk to us. There was no struggle.” In terms of why Rivera may have committed the crime, Rahn said:
“I can’t really speak to you about the motive. I can just tell you it seems that he followed her and seemed to be drawn to her on that particular day and for whatever reason he chose to abduct her.”
Officials did not disclose details of the murder. An autopsy of Mollie Tibbetts to determine the exact cause of death is scheduled for today.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds told the press:
“I spoke with Mollie’s family and passed on the heartfelt condolences of a grieving state. I shared with them my hope that they can find comfort knowing that God does not leave us to suffer alone. Even in our darkest moments, He will comfort and heal our broken hearts.”
Other politicians, including President Donald Trump last night, seized the moment to claim Mollie’s murder resulted from a failed immigration system.
The loss of Mollie Tibbetts is a devastating reminder that we must urgently fix our broken immigration laws.
Christhian Bahena Rivera is being held on $1 million bail. He is expected to appear in court today. If convicted, Rivera could face life in prison without the possibility of parole. Iowa does not have the death penalty.