Cristhian Rivera was an “employee in good standing” at a farm owned by a prominent Iowa Republican family before the undocumented immigrant was charged with killing college student Mollie Tibbetts.
Twenty-four-year-old Rivera was charged after leading authorities to Tibbetts’ body in a rural field, the Washington Post reported. Rivera was charged with first-degree murder after approaching Rick Rahn of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and eventually showing detectives where the body had been dumped in a cornfield in Guernsey, Iowa, which is close to 15 minutes from where Mollie went missing.
New details are emerging about Cristhian Rivera, including his connection to a well-connected Republican family in Iowa. As the Des Moines Register reported, he worked at Yarrabee Farms for the last four years. The farm is owned by Dane Lang, the brother of Craig Lang, who was the president of both the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and the Iowa Board of Regents. Lang is also running for state secretary of agriculture as a Republican.
Lang has spoken out about Rivera’s arrest, saying that he passed the government’s vetting process to be hired. Officials for the farm released a statement saying they are fully cooperating with police on the investigation.
“First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Mollie Tibbetts. This is a profoundly sad day for our community. All of us at Yarrabee Farms are shocked to hear that one of our employees was involved and is charged in this case. This individual has worked at our farms for four years, was vetted through the government’s E-Verify system, and was an employee in good standing. On Monday, the authorities visited our farm and talked to our employees. We have cooperated fully with their investigation.”
But the killing remains controversial for Rivera’s status as an undocumented immigrant and has drawn plenty of attention from prominent Republicans, including President Donald Trump who spoke out against the killing at a campaign rally in West Virginia on Tuesday.
Rivera reportedly told police that he encountered Tibbetts while she was on a jog, but she became frightened and threatened to call police. Police said Rivera confessed that he caught up with Tibbetts and a struggle ensued, but that he then blacked out. Authorities have not yet released details on exactly how the college student died.
Mollie was dog-sitting for her boyfriend and his brother at the time of her death. She was reported missing the following day when she did not show up for her job at a local daycare.
Cristhian Rivera is being held without bail for the murder of Mollie Tibbetts.