MONTEZUMA, Iowa -- Authorities have arrested a 24-year-old rural Poweshiek County man and charged him with 1st-degree murder in the disappearance and death of Mollie Tibbetts, the Iowa woman at the center of a multi-week missing persons search.
Cristhian Bahena Rivera - who authorities described as an "illegal alien"- was named as the murder suspect during a media conference on Tuesday, Aug. 21.
Dozens of law enforcement officials from local, state and federal agencies were involved in the investigation after the disappearance of Tibbetts, 20. A body was discovered in the early morning hours of August 21, in a farm field southeast of Brooklyn, Iowa. The identity has not been confirmed, but it is believed to be Mollie Tibbetts, authorities said.
Investigators say they used surveillance video in tracking down Rivera. The video showed Tibbetts jogging in a rural area near her hometown of Brooklyn as well as Rivera's car. Rivera later walked police through the night Tibbetts disappeared.
"He actually tells us that he ran along side of her and at one point. He tells us that Mollie grabbed a hold of her phone and said, 'you need to leave me alone I`m going to call the police.' Then she took off running and in turn, he chased her down and then he tells us at some point he blacked out." says DCI special agent Richard Rahns.
An affidavit release from Poweshiek County says Rivera told police, when he regained consciousness later in his car he noticed there was an ear piece from headphones in his lap and that is how he realized he put Mollie in the trunk of his car.
According to the affidavit, Rivera says he went to get her out of the trunk and he noticed blood on the side of her head.
Police had searched the area but noted her body was found in a field, covered with corn stalks.
“Our hearts go out to the Tibbetts family and to the Brooklyn community. It is a loss for all of us,” said Poweshiek County Sheriff Tom Kriegel. “We appreciate the support for law enforcement community in their commitment to this investigation, and we thank the Brooklyn community for their support for the investigation.”