Suspect in Mollie Tibbetts' killing gave false ID to employer

1 year 1 month 3 weeks ago Thursday, August 23 2018 Aug 23, 2018 Thursday, August 23, 2018 6:14:00 AM CDT August 23, 2018 in News
By: Eric Levenson, Samira Said and Steve Almasy, CNN
Photo Courtesy CNN

(CNN) -- 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.

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 him or 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."

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

More News

Grid
List
SALINE COUNTY — Three Saline County children abducted in 2017 were found in Arlington, Texas on Thursday, according to the... More >>
56 minutes ago Saturday, October 19 2019 Oct 19, 2019 Saturday, October 19, 2019 2:15:00 PM CDT October 19, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - One Lincoln man is dead following a crash between a motorcycle and a tractor-trailer Friday night on... More >>
1 hour ago Saturday, October 19 2019 Oct 19, 2019 Saturday, October 19, 2019 1:19:00 PM CDT October 19, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Water and Light department said it believes all power has been restored in Columbia. About... More >>
5 hours ago Saturday, October 19 2019 Oct 19, 2019 Saturday, October 19, 2019 10:05:00 AM CDT October 19, 2019 in News
MARSHALL - The suspect in a pair of shootings in early October has been caught out of state, police announced... More >>
18 hours ago Friday, October 18 2019 Oct 18, 2019 Friday, October 18, 2019 9:10:00 PM CDT October 18, 2019 in News
CALIFORNIA - A man heard his sentence on Friday after killing a 20-year-old three years ago for drunk driving. ... More >>
20 hours ago Friday, October 18 2019 Oct 18, 2019 Friday, October 18, 2019 6:31:00 PM CDT October 18, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Below are scores from football games around mid-Missouri. Final scores are in bold. ... More >>
21 hours ago Friday, October 18 2019 Oct 18, 2019 Friday, October 18, 2019 6:06:00 PM CDT October 18, 2019 in Friday Night Fever
COLUMBIA —The University of Missouri issued a statement Friday that the MU Department of Theatre was "in error" when it... More >>
21 hours ago Friday, October 18 2019 Oct 18, 2019 Friday, October 18, 2019 5:52:00 PM CDT October 18, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Friday Night Fever’s Week 8 Game of the Week features a dominant Helias (6-1) visited by a surging... More >>
21 hours ago Friday, October 18 2019 Oct 18, 2019 Friday, October 18, 2019 5:44:00 PM CDT October 18, 2019 in Friday Night Fever
COLUMBIA — The True False Film Festival and Ragtag Cinema are dissolving their relationship with Columbia church The Crossing. Cinema... More >>
21 hours ago Friday, October 18 2019 Oct 18, 2019 Friday, October 18, 2019 5:33:00 PM CDT October 18, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Springfield Mayor Ken McClure hosted a group for a strategy session that included Governor Mike Parson in October.... More >>
22 hours ago Friday, October 18 2019 Oct 18, 2019 Friday, October 18, 2019 4:18:00 PM CDT October 18, 2019 in News
KANSAS CITY - The extent of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes' leg injury sustained during the team's Thursday night... More >>
1 day ago Friday, October 18 2019 Oct 18, 2019 Friday, October 18, 2019 3:07:00 PM CDT October 18, 2019 in Sports
JEFFERSON CITY - A damaged downtown Jefferson City building is scheduled for demolition, but the owners have filed an appeal... More >>
1 day ago Friday, October 18 2019 Oct 18, 2019 Friday, October 18, 2019 2:26:00 PM CDT October 18, 2019 in Continuous News
COLUMBIA - A drug company's decision is causing new worries for the families of children with cancer. Vincristine, a... More >>
1 day ago Friday, October 18 2019 Oct 18, 2019 Friday, October 18, 2019 1:55:00 PM CDT October 18, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Jefferson City Police investigated a threat at Thomas Jefferson Middle School on Friday. TJMS sent out... More >>
1 day ago Friday, October 18 2019 Oct 18, 2019 Friday, October 18, 2019 1:27:00 PM CDT October 18, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - A woman is dead after a car crash on Highway 63 in Columbia on Thursday afternoon. Columbia... More >>
1 day ago Friday, October 18 2019 Oct 18, 2019 Friday, October 18, 2019 11:57:00 AM CDT October 18, 2019 in Top Stories
COLUMBIA - Leaders from several organizations from around Boone County gathered Friday to talk about various county-wide goals. The... More >>
1 day ago Friday, October 18 2019 Oct 18, 2019 Friday, October 18, 2019 11:10:00 AM CDT October 18, 2019 in Top Stories
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities are investigating a triple homicide in a Kansas City neighborhood. Police spokesman... More >>
1 day ago Friday, October 18 2019 Oct 18, 2019 Friday, October 18, 2019 11:01:00 AM CDT October 18, 2019 in Continuous News
COLUMBIA - A man was arrested Thursday evening after police found dangerous drugs during a routine traffic stop. The arrest... More >>
1 day ago Friday, October 18 2019 Oct 18, 2019 Friday, October 18, 2019 4:29:00 AM CDT October 18, 2019 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 57°
3pm 59°
4pm 59°
5pm 58°
6pm 57°