GUERNSEY, Ia. — An undocumented immigrant is in custody charged with first-degree murder in the Mollie Tibbetts investigation, authorities said.
Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, has been in the area for four to six years, officials said. Charges were filed in Poweshiek County court.
Authorities said Rivera approached Tibbetts as she was our running and ran with her before she threatened to call police. He said he blacked out after that.
Investigators are working to identify a body found in rural Poweshiek County Tuesday morning to confirm that it is Tibbetts. The body was hidden in a cornfield and covered with stalks, authorities said.
Fox News and CBS have reported that it’s the body of Mollie Tibbetts, a missing University of Iowa student from Brooklyn, Iowa, who disappeared more than a month ago. Tibbetts’ father confirmed that report, Fox reported Tuesday morning.
A rural portion of 460th Avenue was closed off to the public on Tuesday just east of Highway 21. The area is south of Guernsey, a town of fewer than 100 people.
Media trucks and reporters lined parts of the road where an orange Iowa Department of Transportation truck blocked 460th Avenue. A medical examiner vehicle and several large SUVs passed through the blockade throughout the morning to a nearby property.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued a no-fly restriction over a portion of the street near North English River just southeast of Guernsey until 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. Only Iowa State Patrol aircraft are allowed to fly in the area.
Law enforcement officials were seen congregating outside of a cornfield near rural Guernsey.
The site is about a 15-minute drive from Brooklyn.
The 20-year-old college student was last heard from on July 18 while in her hometown of Brooklyn.
In Brooklyn, the road leading to the home Mollie shared with her mother and two brothers this summer was blocked off Tuesday by the fire department by order of the sheriff’s office.
“We just don’t want a lot of traffic down here,” one fire department employee said.
A vehicle with a “missing” poster on its side was allowed to pass. At the end of the dead-end street, several cars could be seen in the home’s driveway.
Crimestoppers of Central Iowa received around 1,300 tips total regarding Tibbetts as of late last week, said Greg Willey of Crime Stoppers of Central Iowa.
A close family friend of the Tibbetts told him Tuesday morning that a body had been found in the area, he said. At that time, they were unsure whether or not it was Tibbetts.
Over $385,000 has been contributed to help in the search for her, Willey said.
On July 18, Tibbetts was caring for dogs at her boyfriend’s brother’s house on the western edge of Brooklyn when she went for an evening jog.
Authorities say her last confirmed sighting was at 7:30 p.m. while she was running in Brooklyn. Her boyfriend, Dalton Jack, was out of town, and Tibbetts had agreed to dog-sit at the home he shared with his brother and his brother’s fiancee.
The Register’s Shelby Fleig and Bryon Houlgrave report near the scene at 460th street on the latest news on the Mollie Tibbetts search. Bryon Houlgrave and Shelby Fleig, Des Moines Register
Around 10 p.m. that evening, Jack said he viewed a Snapchat from Tibbetts. Jack said the photo message made it appear she was inside a house. The next morning, co-workers called Jack when Tibbetts did not show up for work at a Grinnell daycare.
Since then, investigators local and federal law enforcement have been searching for Tibbetts’ whereabouts, while family and friends have shared her story nationwide.
She was supposed to start classes this week at the University of Iowa.
“It’s shocking and heartbreaking,” said Ellen Driscoll, a 20-year-old junior. “It’s definitely something close to my heart.”