Police are giving credit to a neighbour who offered surveillance
footage from their home security cameras for providing a major
break in the disappearance case
Police have credited had been unable to find Mollie Tibbetts
after she disappeared in Iowa, despite thousands of tips and
weeks of investigations. But a major break in the case occurred
after the local community of Brooklyn, Iowa launched a campaign
to find the missing 20-year-old girl.
A resident of Brooklyn — where the University of Iowa student
went missing while on a run nearly five weeks ago — provided
authorities with hours of recordings from their home’s outdoor
security camera. After combing through the surveillance footage,
police made a wild discovery: Ms Tibbetts could be seen on video
running through the area as a black Chevy Malibu circled her
By tracking the vehicle seen following Ms Tibbetts, police were
able to locate a suspect, Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24.
Mr Rivera led officials to a body believed to be that of Ms
Tibbett this week, according to police documents. He said he had
seen her jogging.
He got out of his car and began running alongside Ms Tibbett,
according to a police affidavit, before allegedly becoming angry
"At one point, he tells us that Mollie grabbed ahold of her
phone and said, 'You need to leave me alone. I'm going to call
the police.' And then, she took off running and he, in turn,
chased her down,” Rick Rahn, a special agent in charge at the
Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, said during a news
The affidavit also said Mr Rivera panicked and "blacked out". He
now faces first degree murder charges.
Investigators said they had earlier searched the area for Ms
Tibbetts but did not find her, noting the body was covered by
corn stalks when recovered early Tuesday.
"He did in fact lead us to where he had placed Mollie, so we
were thankful for that because that allowed us to have some
closure for the family,” Mr Rahn said on Wednesday. ”Its not
like he was on anybody’s radar throughout the investigation".
Mr Rahn said that Mr Rivera was cooperating with investigators
and speaking with the help of a translator. He said an autopsy
would be performed on the body Wednesday by the state medical
examiner’s office, which would assist investigators in
understanding whether Ms Tibbetts had been assaulted.
An autopsy report, which will determine whether or not the body
found in the cornfield is that of Ms Tibbett, was expected to
take between four to six weeks.
A conviction on first-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence
of life in prison without parole in Iowa, which doesn’t have the
Ms 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.
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said that it lodged
a federal immigration detainer for Mr Rivera after he was
arrested on the murder charge. That move means the agency has
probable cause to believe he is subject to deportation.
Yarrabee Farms, a family-owned company that operates dairy farms
in the rolling hills outside Brooklyn, said that the 24-year-old
had been an employee in good standing for four years and that it
was shocked to learn he was arrested.
The company is owned by the family of Craig Lang, a prominent
Republican who previously served as president of the Iowa Farm
Additional reporting by the Associated Press