Man charged with the murder of 20-year-old Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts
Cristhian Rivera was identified as the culprit from surveillance footage that was taken from a home in the area where Mollie Tibbetts disappeared
An arrest has been made in the disappearance and death of 20-year-old Iowa State University student Mollie Tibbetts. Mollie was found dead on Tuesday by law enforcement officers more than a month after she went missing, and police have now arrested 24-year-old Cristhian Rivera in connection to the death.
According to the Daily Mail, Rivera is an illegal Mexican immigrant hailing from Guayabillo in Guerrero, Mexico, and has been in the country between four to seven years. He was identified as the culprit from surveillance footage that was taken from a home in the area where she disappeared. Following his arrest, he led police to the cornfield where he dumped her body after attacking and killing her.
He is said to have followed her in his black car and tried to talk to her as she was on her routine jog at around 7:30 p.m. on July 18. He allegedly confessed that he attacked her after she threatened to call the police if he didn't leave her alone. However, the motive behind the crime is still unknown and, with the results of the autopsy still pending, it is still unclear how exactly Rivera killed Mollie.
Speaking about the case, Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation special agent Rick Rahn said, "He followed her and seemed to be drawn to her on that particular day," adding, "For whatever reason, he chose to abduct her." Rahn added that Rivera was "very compliant" and willing to talk, and said that he led police to her body.
While there is no apparent connection between the pair, it has been revealed that Mollie was friends with the mother of Rivera's daughter.
After she went missing, suspicion immediately fell on boyfriend Jack Dalton, at whose home she had been staying the night before her disappearance. However, Dalton was cleared of doubt soon enough and said he had opened a Snapchat photo she had sent him at 10 p.m. that appeared to show she was indoors. But because there was no time stamp, it was unclear when Mollie forwarded the snap.
The suspicion then shifted to pig farmer Wayne Cheney who lived about four miles away from where Mollie's body was found. Cheney was questioned several times and had his residence searched after police found a red t-shirt that was similar to the one owned by the 20-year-old near his property. But it was never concluded that the t-shirt belonged to Mollie and Cheney maintained his innocence throughout. He even took a polygraph test to rule himself out of suspicion and was eventually never charged.
Rivera's arrest brings a nationwide manhunt to an end with the Mexican officially charged with 1st-degree murder in connection to the killing.