The illegal immigrant from Mexico who is accused of killing Mollie Tibbetts during the summer reportedly used a different name while working at a cattle farm. The 24-year-old suspect, Cristhian Bahena Rivera, was also known as John Budd when he worked at Yarrabee Farms, according to CBS News.
Police say Rivera followed Tibbetts while she was on a run and stabbed her to death. He’s been jailed on a $5 million bond while he awaits trial for first-degree murder. The government has also filed an immigration detainer, which means he could be deported if he is acquitted.
Three people with information about the suspect’s employment confirmed the name was used to hire and pay him at the farm. They spoke anonymously because they aren’t authorized to release information about an ongoing investigation.
News of the suspect’s alias comes weeks after Tibbett’s body was found in a cornfield and Rivera was charged with her murder. The 20-year-old Iowa college student had been missing since July 18.
Yarrabee Farms has declined to confirm or deny Rivera’s work identity. An immigration employment lawyer for the firm said companies can’t discriminate against anyone based on looks or how their names sound. Farm officials said Rivera gave them an out-of-state photo ID and a Social Security number when he was first hired in 2014 and that they believed he was the person in those documents until he was arrested. However, the company did not use a federal E-Verify check on Rivera. The E-Verify system lets companies confirm applicants’ identities and verify if they are eligible to work in the United States.
But it’s not clear if the E-Verify system would have found any issues with Rivera’s fake identity and Yarrabee Farms says it used a different service to confirm that the name and Social Security number he gave them matched.
It’s unclear if anyone else knew Rivera under the name John Budd. He had a Facebook page under his real name and his account listed friends from Iowa. His former attorney said he has a girlfriend and a young daughter.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement has declined to comment on whether Yarrabee Farms, the company that hired Rivera under his alias, is being investigated. But it did say it has received dozens of angry phone calls after his arrest.
Tibbetts’ father has asked the public to not use his daughter’s death in the debates about immigration policy.” The person who is accused of taking Mollie’s life is no more a reflection of the Hispanic community as white supremacists are of all white people,” he wrote in an opinion piece for the Des Moines Register.