MONTEZUMA, Iowa— Police say a man in the country illegally has been charged with murder in the death of Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts.
A charge of 1st degree murder has been filed against 24-year-old Cristhian Bahena Rivera. If convicted, the charge carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
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.
Court documents detail what the suspect told investigators about the abduction and killing of Tibbetts.
An affidavit filed Tuesday says the 20-year-old was running on July 18 in a rural area near Brooklyn, in central Iowa, when a car driven by Christian Bahena Rivera approached her.
During questioning Monday, Rivera acknowledged making contact with Tibbetts, first by pursuing her in his car and then getting out and running beside her.
Rivera told investigators he became angry when Tibbetts showed a cell phone and threatened to call police. He says he panicked and then “blocked” his memory. He says he does not recall what happened but found an earpiece from headphones in his lap and realized he’d put Tibbetts’ in his trunk.
He opened the trunk and noticed blood on the side of her head.
The affidavit says he carried Tibbetts’ body to a cornfield and covered her with corn stalks. When he was questioned by authorities, he led investigators to the site.
At a news conference, Rick Rahn, special agent in charge with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, said Bahena Rivera had been living in the area for four to seven years.