Suspect tells investigators he 'blocked memory' of killing Mollie Tibbetts
WHO-TV / Poweshiek County / Des Moines Register
Mollie Tibbetts, Cristhian Bahena Rivera


The arrest warrant states Cristhian Bahena Rivera told investigators that he became angry and panicked when Mollie Tibbetts threatened to call police. He said being upset blocked his memory of what happened next, until he came to an intersection, and drove into a driveway to a cornfield, where he noticed a headphone earpiece in his lap. He said that’s how he realized he put her in the trunk, the warrant states.

In the trunk, he said he noticed blood on the side of her head. He said he dragged her from his Chevy Malibu on foot to a secluded location in the cornfield, where he covered her with corn leaves, according to the warrant.

The warrant states that based on details and clothing found at the scene and the interview with Rivera, as well as the tentative identification by the medical examiner, that the deceased female is Mollie Tibbetts.

UPDATE 4 p.m. CT:

An undocumented resident in Iowa has been charged with first-degree murder in the disappearance of Mollie Tibbetts Tuesday, police said in an afternoon news conference.

The suspect was identified as Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, a resident of rural Poweshiek County, Iowa, the Des Moines Register reports.

A body was found in a farm field southeast of Brooklyn, Iowa when the suspect led police to the location Tuesday morning after he was interviewed, police said. The body has not been officially identified, but police believe the body is Tibbetts'. The body was found in a corn field covered by corn stalks, police said.

Rivera told police he saw Tibbetts while he was driving, got out and approached her and began talking to her while she was jogging, running beside her, before she warned him she would call police with the phone in her hand. He said he blacked out and woke up at an intersection in rural Poweshiek County, court documents say.

The suspect was cooperative with investigators, police said at Tuesday's news conference. The man has lived in the area for four to seven years, police said.

Police were not immediately able to release full details of the case, including the manner of death of the body found.

Rahn said the suspect told investigators 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 document says. He left the body in a cornfield and covered it with corn leaves, it adds.

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.

UPDATE 9:33 a.m. CT:

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation has confirmed a body was found Tuesday morning in rural Poweshiek County.

Though they have not confirmed the body is that of missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts, within the same press release the DCI announced they would hold a news conference “regarding the Mollie Tibbetts Investigation” at 4 p.m. at the Poweshiek County Sheriff’s Office.

The DCI says law enforcement discovered the body and they are working to confirm the identity of the body.

Investigators have blocked off 460th Avenue, a gravel road that intersects with Highway 21 southwest of Guernsey. The area had previously been searched. It’s about 15 minutes from Brooklyn. A vehicle from the Iowa State Medical Examiner’s Office was seen traveling on 460th Avenue Tuesday morning.

By Kelly Maricle, WHO

MONTEZUMA, Iowa -- (WHO) -- The body of missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts has reportedly been found.

Official details have not been released by investigators, but Greg Willey with Crime Stoppers of Central Iowa says a close friend of the Tibbetts’ family called him Tuesday morning and told him the body of Mollie Tibbetts has been found.

Special Agent in Charge Richard Rahn with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation tells Channel 13 a 4 p.m. news conference is scheduled at the Poweshiek County Sheriff’s Office in Montezuma to release information in the case.

Mollie Tibbetts, 20, a student at the University of Iowa, was last seen on July 18 while jogging in Brooklyn, Iowa. She was reported missing the next day after she failed to show up for work.