Update at 4:37 p.m.
Officials say first degree murder charges have been filed against a Poweshiek County man in the disappearance and death of 20-year old Mollie Tibbetts. A body authorities believe to be Tibbetts was found early this morning in a rural part of the county, south of her hometown of Brooklyn. Rick Rahn with the state Department of Criminal Investigation said Tuesday afternoon they’re still working to confirm her identity.
Rahn says charges were filed against 24-year-old Cristhian Rivera after a long interview.
“Here he actually tells us that he ran along side of her or behind her,” Rahn said. “At one point he tells us that Mollie grabbed ahold of her phone and said ‘you’re going to have to leave me alone. I’m going to call the police.’ She took off running and he chased her down.”
Rahn says Rivera told investigators he blacked out after that. Rivera led investigators to the body early this morning, which was hidden under corn stalks. Rahn says investigators are not saying at this point how Tibbetts was killed.
Tibbetts was last seen alive on July 18th, when she was running in Brooklyn. At the time she was staying at the home of her boyfriend, who was out of town working.
Rahn says investigators found Rivera by reviewing security camera video that appeared to show Tibbets on her evening run, possibly being followed by a vehicle that turned out to be Rivera’s.
Rahn described Rivera as an undocumented immigrant who has been living in the area for four to six years. He says Rivera cooperated with investigators during the interview. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says that it has "lodged a detainer" with the Poweshiek County sheriff's office to hold Rivera.
Authorities in Poweshiek County in central Iowa are working to confirm that a body found early today is that of a missing University of Iowa student. A brief news release from the state Department of Public Safety says the body was found in a rural area of the county.
CBS and other national news organizations are reporting the body is that of 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts. Fox News is reporting that Tibbetts' father, Rob Tibbetts, confirmed from his home in California that the body found this morning is his daughter. Law enforcement officials say they’ll release more information at a news conference at 4 p.m. today.
Tibbetts was last seen the evening of July 18th, when she was running in her hometown of Brooklyn. Her family reported her missing the following day when she didn’t show up for work. Tibbetts had been dog-sitting at her boyfriend’s house while he was out of town working.
Her disappearance gained national attention, and a reward for her safe return had grown to nearly $400,000. That money will reportedly now be offered to anyone with information that leads to an arrest and conviction in Tibbetts’ case.