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What to know about the undocumented immigrant charged with killing Mollie Tibbetts

Posted at 3:58 PM, Aug 21, 2018

Iowa authorities have charged Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, with murder in the death of Mollie Tibbetts, a 20-year-old college student who has been missing for five weeks.

Here is what we know about Rivera so far.

Suspect is an undocumented immigrant

Rivera has been in the area for four to seven years, said Rick Rahn, special agent in charge at the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Rivera is from Mexico.

Suspect led authorities to the body

Rivera led authorities to the young woman's body, which was found in a cornfield with leaves placed on top, Rahn said. The area in Poweshiek County has a lot of fields, woods and ditches, Rahn said, which presented challenges for authorities searching for the missing student. "We have certainly had extensive searches throughout the county, we just didn't have success locating her," Rahn said.


He allegedly chased Tibbetts

In a lengthy interview with police, Rivera said he saw Tibbetts jogging on July 18 and followed her, Rahn said.

Rivera said he approached and ran alongside or behind her. He said that Tibbetts grabbed her phone and told him to leave her alone, or she would call the police. Rivera said he chased down Tibbetts after she took off running, Rahn said.

Rivera told authorities he blacked out at some point and he came to near an intersection where they believe he placed the body, officials said.