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Timeline of Events: What happened in the case of Mollie Tibbetts

Mollie Tibbetts disappeared in July of 2018. After a month of searching, her body was found and murder charges were filed in her death.

BROOKLYN, Iowa — The following is a growing timeline of events in the case of Mollie Tibbetts, a 20-year-old University of Iowa student from Brooklyn, Iowa. 

Mollie was reported missing in July of 2018. A little more than one-month later, her body was found in a cornfield in a rural area outside of her hometown. 

The day her body was discovered, 24-year-old Cristhian Bahena Rivera was charged in her murder.  

The trial, which was ultimately moved to Scott County, was postponed due to a backlog in the courts and COVID-19 precautions. The trial start date is set for Monday, May 17, with jury selection. 


July 18, 2018 - Mollie was last seen jogging near her boyfriend's home in Brooklyn, Iowa.  She had been staying there to watch his dogs while he was out of town. 

July 19, 2018 - Mollie Tibbetts is reported missing.  That morning she didn't show up to the daycare where she worked.

July 24, 2018 - The FBI joins the search for Mollie. Volunteer searches were called off as federal agents and state investigators took over.

July 16, 2018 - Investigators search a pig farm near Guernsey, Iowa, located about 15 minutes from Brooklyn, Iowa.

August 2, 2018 - Family members hold a press conference announcing a reward fund has raised to $172,000.  The money was intended as a reward for anyone who could provide information that would lead to her location and bring her home.

August 3, 2018 - Investigators hold news conference about the search efforts. The Iowa Department of Public Safety's investigative operations director, Kevin Winker, assured the public the search was still going, despite not being able to share much information. 

August 7, 2018 - Reward fund grows to more than $300,000.

August 13, 2018 - Website launches to help search for Mollie.  The website, which was called findingmollie.iowa.gov, had an interactive map and a link for people to anonymously provide tips.

August 15, 2018 - Search for Mollie focuses in on five locations near her hometown: her boyfriend's home in Brooklyn, a carwash, a truck stop, a farm three miles from downtown Brooklyn, another farm more than six miles away.

August 21, 2018 - Mollie Tibbett's body is found. The man who was later charged with first-degree murder in her death, 24-year-old Cristhian Bahena Rivera, led investigators to her body early Tuesday in a cornfield outside of Brooklyn, Iowa

August 21, 2018 - Cristhian Bahena Rivera is named the murder suspect during a press conference on this day, charged with first-degree murder.

RELATEDMollie Tibbetts case mystified police until a security camera offered a key clue

August 22, 2018 - Cristhian Bahena Rivera makes first court appearance. His appearance was in Poweshiek County court, where he was arraigned on a first-degree murder charge and his bond was set at $5 million. 

RELATED: Immigrant charged in Iowa student’s death was known by alias

August 23, 2018 -- Autopsy shows Mollie was killed by "multiple sharp force injuries," and that Mollie was the victim of a homicide, according to the Division of Criminal Investigation.

August 26, 2018 -- Local runners hold a run in Mollie's memory.  "Miles for Mollie" aimed to help educate runners on safety while running.

August 28, 2018 -- Money for reward fund is returned to donors. The reward fund had reached nearly $400,000 when Mollie's family and Crime Stoppers announced they would be giving back any money that was donated.

September 18, 2018 -- Cristhian Bahena Rivera pleads not guilty. He entered his plea at the Poweshiek County Courthouse in Montezuma, Iowa.

October 1, 2018 -- Memorial fund set up in Mollie's honor benefits Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital. Money goes toward child and adolescent psychiatry at the children's hospital.  

Donations can be made here

March 4, 2019 -- Cristhian Bahena Rivera asks to have trial moved for more diversity. His lawyers argued that another county would allow for more minority representation in the jury pool.

May 7, 2019 -- Mollie's family asks for donations to the Brooklyn Opera House. The fundraiser were meant to be in celebration of Mollie's 21st birthday, on May 8, 2019. Mollie's mother said the opera house held significance to the family. 

November 14, 2019 -- Lawyers for Cristhian Bahena Rivera ask for the court to throw out the confession he made to police in 2018. His lawyers said when he was read his legal rights, it got lost in translation. They argued that any evidence related to the body shouldn't be used in trial. 

July 10, 2020 -- Judge orders trial to be moved to Scott County. The trial had previously been moved to Woodbury County.

December 10, 2020 -- The trial is pushed to May of 2021.

May 11, 2021 -- A judge rules that members of the public and media won't be allowed inside the courtroom, but can watch live via internet or TV

May 13, 2021 -- A pretrial conference is held. The court will work through a pool of 175 potential jurors to get down to 12 starting May 17. 

May 17, 2021 -- Jury selection begins for Cristhian Bahena Rivera's trial.

May 19, 2021 -- The trial for Cristhian Bahena Rivera begins with the prosecution's opening statement followed by testimony.

RELATED: Dalton Jack, Mollie Tibbetts' boyfriend, testifies on Day 1 of Cristhian Bahena Rivera murder trial

May 24, 2021 -- The State rests its case in court.

RELATED: State rests its case after fourth day of testimony in Cristhian Bahena Rivera murder trial

May 25, 2021 -- The defense gives its opening statement and begins calling witnesses. 

May 26, 2021 -- The defense rests its case.

May 28, 2021 -- Cristhian Bahena Rivera is found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Mollie Tibbetts. Jurors in Scott County deliberated for about 7.5 hours to reach this verdict.  Sentencing is set for July 17.

July 13, 2021 -- Defense attorneys file a motion to compel, and seek a new trial for Cristhian Bahena Rivera.

July 16, 2021 -- Judge Joel Yates denies the motion to compel.

July 27, 2021 --  Testimony is heard from an inmate who came forward about the trial. 

RELATED: Inmate testifies at Cristhian Bahena Rivera court hearing on motion for new trial

Aug 2, 2021 -- Judge Joel Yates denies request for a new trial. 

Aug 30, 2021 -- Cristhian Bahena Rivera is sentenced to serve the rest of his life in prison, with no possibility of parole.

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