Mollie Tibbetts Press Conference - Aug. 21, 2018

The man charged with first-degree murder in the death of Mollie Tibbetts allegedly confessed to the crime and led authorities to what is believed to be her body, a special agent with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation said Tuesday (Aug. 21, 2018).

Cristhian Rivera / Courtesy: Iowa DCI
Cristhian Rivera / Courtesy: Iowa DCI

Cristhian Rivera, 24, is being held in the Poweshiek County Jail in Montezuma on $1,000,000 cash-only bond. His initial court appearance is scheduled for 1 PM Wednesday in Montezuma.

Rivera is a Mexican citizen who's been living in the United States illegally for up to seven years, Iowa DCI Special Agent Rick Rahn said.

According to multiple news reports, Rivera worked at Yarrabee Farms in Poweshiek County. The small dairy operation is owned by the family of Craig Lang, who previously served as president of the Iowa Board of Regents and the Iowa Farm Bureau.

At a news conference held in Montezuma on Tuesday, Rahn described Rivera as someone who lived in a rural area and kept to himself. He said investigators were able to link Rivera to Tibbetts' disappearance using surveillance video they obtained from a rural Brooklyn man's security cameras. According to Rahn, the video showed a black Chevrolet Malibu going back and forth in an area near where Tibbets was running on July 18, the night she went for a jog and vanished.

"I can't speak about the motive,” Rahn told reporters. “I can tell you that it seemed that he followed her and seemed to be drawn to her on that particular day. For whatever reason, he chose to abduct her."

In an affidavit provided to reporters at the press briefing, Rivera allegedly told investigators that he killed Tibbetts and dumped her body in a cornfield about 12 miles southeast of Brooklyn. According to the document, Rivera confessed to making contact with a female running in Brooklyn and that he pursued her in his vehicle to an area east of the small, central Iowa community.

Rivera allegedly parked the vehicle, got out, and was running behind Tibbetts and along side of her. In his confession, Rivera told authorities that Tibbetts grabbed her phone and said “I'm gonna call the police”. Rivera said he then panicked, got mad ,and “blocked his memory”, which is something he does when he gets upset.

According to information in the affidavit, Rivera told investigators that he made a u-turn and drove to the entrance of a cornfield. That's when he noticed there was an ear piece from headphones in his lap and realized that he put her in the trunk of his vehicle. Rivera said when he opened the truck, he noticed blood on the side of Tibbets' head.

Rivera told authorities that he carried Tibbets' body about 20 meters into the cornfield and left it there, covered under corn leaves.

Authorities said Rivera led investigators to the field and recovered the body early Tuesday morning. It will be another four-to-six weeks before they are able to make a positive identification. An autopsy is scheduled Wednesday morning.

Rahn said authorities received more than 4,000 leads in the case.

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