Mollie Tibbetts, the 20-year-old Iowa student who has been missing for a month, was found dead on August 21. Twenty-four-year-old Cristhian Bahena-Rivera, who has been residing in the United States illegally, has been charged of murdering her.
CNN reports that authorities were able to track down Bahena-Rivera thanks to security camera footage that showed a vehicle belonging to him alongside Tibbetts as she was jogging on July 18, the last night she was seen alive. Bahena-Rivera told authorities that he was following Tibbetts and she felt threatened by him to the point where she warned that she would call the police if she didn’t leave her alone. Bahena-Rivera then claims he became angry and “blacked out”; when he woke up he found her body in his car, prompting Bahena-Rivera to dispose the body in a cornfield.
Rick Rahn, the special agent leading the investigation into Tibbetts’ disappearance at the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, said that Bahena-Rivera “followed her and seemed to be drawn to her on that particular day and for whatever reason he chose to abduct her.”
Bahena-Rivera is currently being held at a local jail and faces an immigration detainer from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); he is originally from Mexico and has resided in the U.S. for at least four years.
Tibbetts, originally from San Francisco, was studying psychology at the University of Iowa. She was dog-sitting at her boyfriend’s home in Brooklyn, Iowa.