Mollie Tibbetts suffered 'multiple sharp force injuries' and her death was a homicide, reveals autopsy
Cristhian Bahena Rivera, a 24-year-old Mexican man, was charged with the murder of Mollie Tibbetts on Wednesday
Mollie Tibbetts' preliminary autopsy report has determined that her death was a "homicide resulting from multiple sharp force injuries," the Iowa State Medical Examiner stated.
Tibbetts, a 20-year-old student at the University of Iowa, went missing after an evening jog on July 18. Following an extensive month-long search in the region, a body that officials believed to be hers was found on Tuesday in a rural area, hidden under corn stalks. The autopsy has also confirmed her identity. "Sharp force injuries" are those caused by pointed objects and include stab wounds, incised wounds and chop wounds, according to the medical news site Medscape.
The breakthrough in the investigation came from CCTV images that captured the suspect's black Chevy Malibu "driving back and forth" near the crime scene.
On Wednesday, Cristhian Bahena Rivera, a 24-year-old Mexican man who illegally came to the United States, was charged with her murder and confessed to following her on her run. In an arrest affidavit, Rivera said he remembered getting mad at her; what happened afterwards was "blocked" from his memory.
When he came to his senses, he realized he had put a bleeding Tibbetts in his trunk and he then carried her into a cornfield and left her there, the affidavit states.
Tibbetts' tragic murder and the suspect's unauthorized immigration status have put the story on the forefront of the US immigration debate over the past few days. President Donald Trump and other leading Republicans have argued that this case shows the need to maintain stricter border security and kick out undocumented immigrants.
However, studies have counteracted the argument that immigrants commit more crimes than others. A study published in Justice Quarterly in 2012 found that "foreign-born individuals exhibit remarkably low levels of involvement in crime." Similarly, a study from Northwestern University found no correlation between immigrants and violent crime.
Rivera has not yet entered a plea in the case and is being held on $5 million bond. He has no criminal record and had worked at a local dairy farm for four years prior to his arrest. Rick Rahn, special agent in charge at the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, told CNN that the suspect's motive was unclear.
"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," Rahn said.