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Mollie Tibbetts

Mollie Tibbetts: Accused killer Cristhian Rivera to appear in court to face first-degree murder charge

The man accused of kidnapping and killing University of Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts is expected to make his first court appearance on Wednesday afternoon.

FOX reports that 24-year-old Cristhian Bahena Rivera, charged with the murder of 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts, is scheduled to appear Wednesday at the at the Poweshiek County Courthouse in Montezuma at 1 p.m.

Rivera, who’s being held behind bars on a $1 million cash-only bond, doesn’t yet have an attorney listed. He’s facing a first-degree murder charge.

Cristhian Bahena Rivera [Photo: Poweshiek County Sheriff’s Office]
As CrimeOnline previously reported, investigators found a deceased body in a cornfield around 12 miles southeast of Brooklyn on early Tuesday morning. Although officials are awaiting final results from the Medical Examiner on the identification of the body, they stated it’s likely Mollie.

“During our neighborhood canvas, we came across an individual that had security cameras,” Poweshiek County Sheriff Tom Kriegel said, explaining how Rivera landed on the radar of authorities. “He [the resident with surveillance footage] was kind enough to give us the footage from it. And through that, we were able to identify a vehicle that believe belonged to Mr. Rivera. It was a black Malibu. And from that we were able to track his pattern and the routes in which he took.”

Authorities confirmed during Tuesday’s press conference that Rivera is an undocumented immigrant and is being held on a federal immigration detainer, meaning that he’s accused of entering the United States illegally. Rivera has been living in the Brooklyn, Iowa, area for around four to seven years. Rivera is from Mexico and had allegedly seen Mollie out jogging in the past. On July 18, he followed her in his vehicle, according to authorities, then got out of his vehicle and abducted her.

Poweshiek County Sheriff Tom Kriegel said Rivera reportedly confessed that he saw Mollie jogging along 385th Street in Brooklyn, and he circled around in his vehicle and began following her. Rivera allegedly said Mollie saw him and threatened to call 911 but he gave chase, caught her, then “blacked out.”

The body was found covered with corn stalks, located in a rural wooded area between Guersney and Deep River, Iowa, at the intersection of 460th Street and Highway 21, south of Interstate 20.

An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday, but Kriegel said it could be several days or more before an official cause of death is released.

The story continues to develop. Check back with CrimeOnline as additional details become available.

[Feature Photo: Mollie Tibbetts/Handout]