An illegal immigrant has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of a 20-year-old University of Iowa student, officials announced on Tuesday.
The body of Mollie Tibbetts, who disappeared after going for a jog on July 18, was located in a cornfield on Tuesday, according to Rick Rahn, special agent in charge at the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.
“Our hearts go out to the Tibbetts family and to the Brooklyn community. It is a loss for all of us,” Poweshiek County Sheriff Tom Kriegel said in a news release.
Authorities believe the suspect, 24-year-old Cristhian Bahena Rivera, has lived in the area for four to seven years and immigrated from Mexico. Based on surveillance-camera footage, police determined he followed Tibbetts during her jog before abducting her.
It remains unclear exactly how Rivera killed Tibbetts, but an autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday and should provide more detailed information.
Tibbetts’s brother dropped her off on the afternoon of the July 18 at her boyfriend’s house in the small town of Brooklyn, Iowa, roughly an hour east of Des Moines. Her family reported the psychology student missing the following day after she failed to show up at work and became unresponsive to her boyfriend’s text messages.
Authorities conducted an extensive investigation following the disappearance, including more than 500 interviews, according to Rahn.