Federal, state and local agents visited on Thursday the Iowa dairy farm where the suspect in the slaying of Mollie Tibbetts worked and lived before his arrest.
Agents from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, and the county sheriff’s office were seen at Yarrabee Farms in Brooklyn, Iowa, where they spent about two hours meeting with employees and owners, according to the Des Moines Register.
Whether the law enforcement officials were investigating the cattle farm’s employment practices, the killing of the University of Iowa student, or both was not immediately clear. But Mitch Mortvedt, the assistant director of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, said that the investigation conducted at the farm is focused on federal law and not the homicide case, which his agency is leading, the Chicago Tribune reported.
“One of two” state agents were present at the scene assisting the investigation led by ICE and the Department of Homeland Security, Mortvedt said, according to the Ottawa Citizen. He declined to comment further, contending the investigation is federal and should be deferred to the Department of Homeland Security and ICE.
The county’s chief deputy declined to comment at the scene, and state and federal agencies had no immediate response.
Yarrabee Farms said in a statement that it was cooperating with investigators who had asked to visit the farm but declined to comment further citing pending investigation.
The investigation comes on the heels of a recent report by the Associated Press contending that the suspect in the case, Cristhian Bahena Rivera, had worked at the dairy farm for years under the name John Budd.
Rivera, 24, was arrested and charged with murder in connection with the slaying of Tibbetts, 20, who was founded stabbed in a cornfield after being missing for more than a month. Investigators say Rivera was in the U.S. illegally and is subject to deportation proceedings.
Rivera, who is originally from Mexico, worked at the farm for about four years and lived in one of its trailers free of charge. The farm employs about 10 other workers, about half of whom live in provided housing, according to the Register report.
Managers at the farm have said Rivera, who was hired in 2014, presented an out-of-state identification and a Social Security number, adding that they were his real identity until his arrest on Aug. 21.
Rivera is facing a first-degree murder charge, which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison. He is jailed on a $5 million cash-only bond while awaiting trial.