Although he’s been cooperating with law enforcement and claimed he hired an accused murderer legally, a Brooklyn, Iowa, dairy farm owner says he’s been receiving threats after the arrest of a man who worked for him.
KCCI reports that on Wednesay, Dane Lang, co-owner and manager of Yarrabee Farms in Brooklyn, said that he’s received hateful threats after the public learned Cristhian Rivera, 24, worked at the dairy farm for years. Rivera is currently behind bars, facing first-degree murder charges in connection with the death of 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts.
“This is a scary situation,” Lang said. “There were death threats, people threatening to burn down our buildings. Somebody threatened to kill my dog.”
Dale Lang, along with his father, the former president of the Iowa Farm Bureau, Craig Lang, said that they’re cooperating with investigators and handed over all information they had that pertained to Rivera. The family indicated they had no idea Rivera was working in the country illegally and that the suspect got along with others at the farm, but mostly kept to himself.
Despite previous claims from the Lang family that they used the Social Security Administration’s “E-Verify” program to verify Rivera’s employment eligibility, Dane Lang confirmed that the statement was inaccurate, according to FOX News.
Dane Lang said they never used E-Verify, but instead hired Rivera after he provided a state-issued photo ID and a Social Security card. The identification cards, per authorities, did not belong to Rivera. He allegedly used a fake name and identification for work purposes.
“We learned that our employee was not who he said he is.”
According to Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, identity fraud remains the most common way undocumented immigrants and “unscrupulous employers” trick the system. However, the Lang family maintains they did nothing illegal and fully believed the identification provided by Rivera showed he was legally able to work in the U.S.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Rivera is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 20-year-old Mollie. Authorities 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.
Rivera reportedly told investigators that he spotted Mollie jogging near Middle and Boundary Streets in Brooklyn on July 18, when he slowed down and started following her in his black Chevrolet Malibu.
At some point, Rivera got out of the vehicle and began following the University of Iowa student by foot, even jogging alongside her. Apparently frightened, Mollie told the suspect she would call 911, then pulled out her phone, according to Rivera’s reported admission. Rivera said he became upset and “blacked out” at the threat, something he claimed he did often when becoming too angry.
Rivera told investigators the next thing he remembered was waking up inside his car, parked at a rural intersection. He immediately made a U-turn and drove to the entrance of a rural field. He then drove into a driveway of a cornfield. Rivera said at some point he looked down noticed Mollie’s earpiece from her earbuds or headphones lying on his lap, and “realized he put her in the truck.”
Upon checking the trunk, Rivera said he found Mollie inside, with one side of her head bloodied, according to the affidavit. The suspect said he pulled Mollie out of the trunk and dragged her by foot into a secluded area in the woods. He then tossed her over his shoulders and walked around 20 meters into the woods, where he tossed her body on the ground and covered her with corn leaves.
While talking to authorities, Rivera described by memory where he left Mollie. The information, along with a digital footprint from Mollie’s Fitbit watch, helped lead investigators to her body. Investigators found a female’s lifeless body in the area Rivera led them to. The deceased victim was wearing “certain articles of clothing” Mollie was last seen wearing.
Rivera is currently behind bars on a $5 million cash-only bail amount. His next scheduled court hearing is August 31.
[Feature Photo: Cristhian Rivera; Mollie Tibbetts/Handout]