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Illegal immigrant charged with first-degree murder in Mollie Tibbetts' death
An illegal immigrant was charged with the murder of Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts, who had been missing for more than a month. (Image source: YouTube video screenshot.)

Illegal immigrant charged with first-degree murder in Mollie Tibbetts' death

Shortly after finding the body of Mollie Tibbetts, the Iowa college student who had been missing for more than a month, authorities charged an illegal immigrant with her murder, according to Fox News.

Tibbetts went missing on July 18 after going on a jog. Cristhian Bahena Rivera has been charged with first-degree murder in her death. Police say Rivera led them to her body.

"I can't really speak to you about the motive," said Rick Rahn, special agent in charge at the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, according to CNN. "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."

How did they catch him?

According to Fox News, they identified Rivera by way of surveillance footage that showed his car near the area Tibbetts took her jog and disappeared. Her body was found in a cornfield, covered by corn stalks.

Rivera is now being held on a federal immigration detainer. Authorities believe the 24-year-old man had been living in rural Iowa for between four and seven years.

The suspect's confession

Rivera claims he blacked out during an altercation with Tibbetts, and then woke up at an intersection in Poweshiek County, realizing he had put her in the trunk of his car.

The suspect said he took her out of the trunk, saw blood on the side of her head, and dumped the body off in the cornfield, according to court records.

An autopsy will be performed on the body to determine when and how Tibbetts died. Rivera is currently being held on $1 million bail.

Long investigation concludes

About 40 investigators that were working tirelessly to track Tibbetts down interviewed nearly 1,500 people in their investigation and received about 4,000 tips over the course of the 34 days between her disappearance and the discovery of her body.

"It never crossed our mind that she wouldn't come home safe," said Brooklyn, Iowa, city clerk Sheri Sharer.

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