SEVERE WX : Flood Watch - Flash Flood Watch - Flood Advisory View Alerts

Suspect in Mollie Tibbetts' killing gave false ID to employer

The man accused of pursuing and killing 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts had worked four years at an Iowa dairy f...

Posted: Aug 23, 2018 7:05 PM
Updated: Aug 23, 2018 7:05 PM

The man accused of pursuing and killing 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts had worked four years at an Iowa dairy farm based on false identification, his employer said Wednesday.

"What we learned in the last 24 hours is that our employee was not who he said he was," said Dane Lang, the co-owner and manager of Yarrabee Farms.

Continents and regions

Crime, law enforcement and corrections

Crimes against persons

Criminal law

Criminal offenses

Diet, nutrition and fitness

Exercise and fitness

Health and medical

Homicide

Immigration

Immigration, citizenship and displacement

International relations and national security

Investigations

Iowa

Law and legal system

Law enforcement

Midwestern United States

Misc people

Mollie Tibbetts

Murder

North America

Policing and police forces

The Americas

Undocumented immigrants

United States

Endurance sports

Running and jogging

Sports and recreation

Autopsies

Medical treatments and procedures

Court trials

Trial and procedure

Labor and employment

That revelation came about an hour after the employee, Cristhian Bahena Rivera, was arraigned on a first-degree murder charge for the killing of Tibbetts. His bond was set at $5 million and his next court hearing is scheduled for August 31.

Tibbetts went missing last month after going out for an evening run in Brooklyn, Iowa, and her disappearance launched an extensive search in the region.

On Tuesday, Rivera -- who confessed to following her as she ran on a country road -- led authorities to the field where a body believed to be hers was buried under corn stalks, officials said.

Rivera, a 24-year-old Mexican man who officials said came to the US illegally, largely remained silent in court, answering yes or no questions in Spanish through an interpreter. His defense attorney, Allan Richards, said Rivera came to the US as a minor, held a job in the community and has no prior criminal record.

What we know about the suspect

Rivera worked for the past four years at Yarrabee Farms.

In applying for the job, Rivera provided a state ID and Social Security card that was verified through the Social Security Administration's verification system, according to Lang. But those forms of ID were not of Rivera, he said.

"All of us are saddened by the tragic death of Mollie and the realization that one of our coworkers was involved," he said.

Lang said that Rivera was an employee in good standing who came to work on time and got along with his coworkers.

Neither he nor his employees noticed anything suspicious about Rivera's behavior after Tibbetts vanished, he said.

"This guy stayed around for 35 days after he did this," Lang said. "Nobody noticed anything different."

Yarrabee Farms is owned in part by Craig Lang, a prominent Iowa Republican who ran for Iowa secretary of agriculture this summer.

US Citizenship and Immigration Services spokesperson Michael Bars told CNN that Rivera did not make any requests for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, that might have provided him legal status in the US.

"We have found no record in our systems indicating he has any lawful immigration status," Bars said.

Officials did not explain why Rivera killed Tibbetts, said Rick Rahn, special agent in charge at the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.

"I can't really speak to you about the motive," Rahn said. "I can just tell you it seems that he followed her and seemed to be drawn to her on that particular day and for whatever reason he chose to abduct her."

Tibbetts' family speaks out

Tibbetts' family released a statement Wednesday thanking their supporters and asking for privacy.

"Our hearts are broken. On behalf of Mollie's entire family, we thank all of those from around the world who have sent their thoughts and prayers for our girl. We know that many of you will join us as we continue to carry Mollie in our hearts forever," the family said.

"At this time, our family asks that we be allowed the time to process our devastating loss and share our grief in private. Again, thank you for the outpouring of love and support that has been shared in Mollie's name. We remain forever grateful."

An autopsy to determine when and how Tibbetts died is planned for Wednesday. The final autopsy results are expected in four-eight weeks, although some preliminary results may be available in the next few days, according to Mitch Mortvedt, assistant director of the Iowa Department of Public Safety.

A monthlong search

Tibbetts was studying psychology at the University of Iowa and wanted to get a doctorate and write books, her father said. Her disappearance set off an extensive search that brought in hundreds of leads but no clues as to where she was.

Authorities had been looking for Tibbetts for about a month when they found home surveillance video that showed a car following a woman running on July 18.

After watching it for hours, investigators found clues that led them to Rivera. He didn't resist when authorities tried to detain him, Rahn said.

According to court documents, the suspect said in an interview that when he approached Tibbetts, she pulled out her cell phone and told Rivera she was going to "call the police" and that caused him to get angry.

Rivera alleged he blacked out at some point and woke up at an intersection in rural Poweshiek County, court documents state. At that point, he realized he had put the woman in the trunk of his car, and when he took her out, he saw blood on the side of her head, the arrest warrant states.

He left the body in a cornfield and covered it with corn leaves, the warrant adds. Rivera led authorities to a corn field on Tuesday morning, where they found a body covered in corn leaves. Tibbetts' clothing was also found at the scene.

Suspect came to US illegally

Shawn Neudauer, a spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said the agency on Tuesday sent a detainer request to local authorities for Rivera, who is from Mexico. That means ICE could take custody of Rivera if he was released from local custody.

Rivera's immigration status was cited by Republican leaders to argue for a change in American immigration policy. President Donald Trump referred to the case while speaking at a rally in Charleston, West Virginia on Tuesday night.

"You heard about today with the illegal alien coming in very sadly from Mexico. And you saw what happened to that incredible beautiful young woman. Should have never happened. Illegally in our country," he said.

"We've had a huge impact but the laws are so bad, the immigration laws are such a disgrace. We're getting it changed but we have to get more Republicans."

Huntsville
Overcast
63° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 63°
Florence
Overcast
66° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 66°
Fayetteville
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 64°
Decatur
Overcast
63° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 63°
Scottsboro
Overcast
63° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 63°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 133433

Reported Deaths: 2349
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19306349
Mobile13233291
Montgomery8748177
Madison770978
Tuscaloosa7418116
Lee579261
Shelby578750
Baldwin514149
Marshall389244
Etowah340247
Calhoun340140
Morgan323926
Houston276423
Elmore259647
DeKalb237519
St. Clair226337
Walker225383
Talladega210628
Limestone203319
Cullman186818
Dallas175926
Franklin175229
Russell17322
Autauga171525
Lauderdale167333
Colbert162926
Blount158015
Escambia157725
Jackson154011
Chilton152431
Dale134644
Covington133427
Coffee12988
Pike11799
Chambers114442
Tallapoosa113885
Clarke107017
Marion95429
Butler91139
Barbour8517
Winston71812
Marengo70519
Lowndes65227
Pickens64514
Bibb63810
Randolph62713
Hale61928
Lawrence60522
Bullock59714
Geneva5864
Cherokee58315
Monroe5808
Clay5547
Washington55113
Perry5396
Conecuh53011
Wilcox53011
Crenshaw52732
Henry4835
Macon47920
Fayette4358
Sumter43219
Lamar3572
Choctaw34412
Cleburne3356
Greene30315
Coosa1673
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 186798

Reported Deaths: 2277
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby30397449
Davidson26194297
Hamilton926392
Knox911575
Rutherford911388
Williamson513936
Sumner475093
Wilson341243
Putnam317038
Montgomery301543
Out of TN296825
Unassigned29046
Bradley288317
Madison278060
Sevier255315
Blount246123
Maury228923
Washington223234
Robertson218835
Sullivan209332
Hamblen187325
Tipton176617
Trousdale16517
Gibson158620
Hardeman154625
Wayne14896
Bedford131717
Dyer131413
Dickson123014
Cumberland116918
Fayette116718
Coffee115612
Anderson115311
Henderson115121
Weakley114519
Carter114128
Loudon11316
Greene111839
Obion11129
McMinn109424
Jefferson108514
Macon103320
Warren10197
Monroe101017
Lawrence100311
Hardin99115
Lauderdale94915
Franklin9458
Haywood93316
Lake9192
Roane8643
Carroll84918
Bledsoe8484
McNairy82418
White8069
Cheatham80510
Rhea79111
Hawkins78016
Cocke7379
Marshall7335
Overton7085
Smith69710
Johnson6622
Henry6129
Chester60510
Lincoln5961
Giles57617
Hickman5535
DeKalb55013
Crockett52919
Marion5167
Decatur4956
Fentress4623
Claiborne4384
Campbell4243
Polk38010
Grainger3603
Union3451
Benton3349
Jackson3145
Morgan3103
Cannon2810
Unicoi2811
Grundy2635
Humphreys2433
Sequatchie2262
Meigs2213
Clay2155
Scott2082
Houston1981
Stewart1822
Lewis1791
Moore1611
Van Buren1590
Perry1490
Hancock1073
Pickett1072

Community Events