MONTEZUMA, Iowa–An illegal immigrant from Mexico has been charged in connection with the death of missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts. An Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman has confirmed to Channel 13 that the suspect arrested–Cristhian Bahena-Rivera, 24–had been living in Brooklyn but had previously entered the United States illegally from Mexico.
Channel 13 is aware of no previous criminal charges against Bahena-Rivera.
Tibbetts was last seen going for a run near her boyfriend’s home in Brooklyn on July 18th. Her disappearance attracted national attention as her family pleaded for someone to come forward with information. Iowa law enforcement officials held a news conference Tuesday afternoon and said video showed Bahena-Rivera’s vehicle near where Tibbetts had been running.
This criminal complaint lays out what authorities say they learned about Bahena-Rivera’s involvement in Tibbetts’ death.
Governor Kim Reynolds sent out a statement shortly after that announcement about the arrest.
“Today, our state woke up to heart-wrenching news. As a mother, I can’t imagine the sorrow felt by the Tibbetts family. We are all suffering over the death of Mollie, knowing that it could have been our own daughter, sister or friend.
“I spoke with Mollie’s family and passed on the heartfelt condolences of a grieving state. I shared with them my hope that they can find comfort knowing that God does not leave us to suffer alone. Even in our darkest moments, He will comfort and heal our broken hearts.
“I want to recognize and thank our local, state and federal law enforcement community for their coordinated and tireless efforts to find Mollie.
“Over the past month, thousands of Iowans searched and prayed for Mollie’s safe return. Now, we are called to come together once again to lift up a grieving family. The search for Mollie is over, but the demand for justice has just begun.
“As Iowans, we are heartbroken, and we are angry. We are angry that a broken immigration system allowed a predator like this to live in our community, and we will do all we can bring justice to Mollie’s killer.”