A suspect who was detained in connection with Mollie Tibbetts’ murder and disappearance was identified as an illegal immigrant named Christian Rivera.
Rivera was charged with first-degree murder on Aug. 21, officials said in a press conference.
— Mario Rossi (@mariovrossi) August 21, 2018
Investigators said that he’s being held on a federal Immigration and Customs detainer, Fox News reported.
“We have confirmed with Homeland Security investigations that he is an illegal alien, and we believe that [Rivera] has been in this area now for four to seven years,” said Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Rick Rahn in a press conference, according to a live stream.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) August 21, 2018
He said that a person who lived nearby gave security camera footage to investigators, and they were able to identify a suspicious vehicle. Rahn said they found that it belonged to Rivera and tracked his routes. They also found Tibbetts on the video.
“He was one of the last people to have seen Mollie running on the video,” he said. “We were able to pull him in” and conducted an interview with Rivera, he added.
Rivera then ran alongside her or behind her, and according to Rahn, he chased Tibbetts after she tried to get away from him. “At some point in time, he blacks out,” Rahn said of what Rivera told him.
Rahn said that this happened just outside of Brooklyn, Iowa.
After interviewing him, Rivera took investigators to the body of Tibbetts. They found her in a cornfield, and “there were corn stalks placed over the top of her,” Rahn said.
An autopsy is scheduled for Tibbetts on Aug. 22, the official stated.
Tibbetts went missing in July after going jogging. She had been staying with her boyfriend, Dalton Jack, while he was out of town.
Tibbetts’ disappearance set off a massive search involving dozens of officers from the FBI, as well as state and local agencies. They focused much of their efforts in and around Brooklyn, searching farm fields, ponds, and homes. Investigators asked anyone who was around five locations, including a car wash, a truck stop and a farm south of town, to report if they saw anything suspicious on July 18.
Last week, on Aug. 15, Vice President Mike Pence said he met with the family of Tibbetts, according to the Des Moines Register. “I just want Mollie’s family to know: You’re on the hearts of every American,” he told the paper. “And we will continue to work and we will continue to pray for Mollie’s safe return.”
Her father said that his family’s meeting with Pence was “touching” and “genuine,” and the vice president was “just another father that was just hurt and bewildered by Mollie’s story,” Fox reported. “He just expressed in a very private way his compassion. It was very genuine and it was real. It was very touching,” Rob Tibbetts added.
“I got the sense that it was not a politician at all, it was just another father that was just hurt and bewildered by Mollie’s story just like everybody else in America,” Tibbetts added.
Christian Bahena Rivera’s name has also bee reported Christhian Bahena Rivera and Cristhian Bahena Rivera.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.