24-year-old man arrested, charged with murder of Mollie Tibbetts

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MONTEZUMA, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- A 24-year-old man in the U.S. illegally is charged with murder in the death of Mollie Tibbetts.

The 20-year-old University of Iowa student was last seen July 18 near Brooklyn, Iowa.

During a news conference Tuesday, authorities announced a body found Tuesday morning in rural Poweshiek County is believed to be Mollie Tibbetts.

They said Cristhian Rivera faces a first degree murder charge.

Officials said Mollie Tibbetts was taken while jogging. They said surveillance cameras showed Rivera's vehicle following Tibbetts the night she disappeared. Police said when they interviewed Rivera, he confessed to the killing, and later led them to her body. They said Rivera had left her body in a cornfield in rural Poweshiek County, near Guernsey.

The Division of Criminal Investigation said Rivera has been living in Poweshiek County illegally between 4 and 7 years.

CLICK HERE to view a complete timeline regarding the search for Tibbetts.

Gov. Kim Reynolds has issued a statement on Mollie Tibbetts:

“Today, our state woke up to heart-wrenching news. As a mother, I can’t imagine the sorrow felt by the Tibbetts family. We are all suffering over the death of Mollie, knowing that it could have been our own daughter, sister or friend.

“I spoke with Mollie’s family and passed on the heartfelt condolences of a grieving state. I shared with them my hope that they can find comfort knowing that God does not leave us to suffer alone. Even in our darkest moments, He will comfort and heal our broken hearts.

“I want to recognize and thank our local, state and federal law enforcement community for their coordinated and tireless efforts to find Mollie.

“Over the past month, thousands of Iowans searched and prayed for Mollie’s safe return. Now, we are called to come together once again to lift up a grieving family. The search for Mollie is over, but the demand for justice has just begun.

“As Iowans, we are heartbroken, and we are angry. We are angry that a broken immigration system allowed a predator like this to live in our community, and we will do all we can bring justice to Mollie’s killer.”
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The University of Iowa has also released a statement:

"We are deeply saddened that we’ve lost a member of the University of Iowa community. Our thoughts are with Mollie Tibbetts’ family, friends, and classmates.

Losing a fellow student and member of our Hawkeye family is difficult. President Harreld and I share in your grief and encourage you to reach out if you are in need of support.

A list of resources can be found on the university's safety and support website (http://www.uiowa.edu/homepage/safety-and-support) or by calling one of these offices:

• University Counseling Services (319-335-7294)
• Student Care and Assistance (319-335-1162)
• UI Employee Assistance Program (319-335-2085)
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Fred Hubbell, Democratic nominee for Iowa governor, released the following statement:

“This is truly heartbreaking. For Mollie’s parents, her family and friends, any words today will be of little comfort. As a parent and grandparent your worst nightmare is losing your child. I know this must be an unimaginable loss. Please know our family and Iowans everywhere share your grief and are united in pursuit of justice. I want to commend our law enforcement officials who worked around the clock to investigate this crime. In this state, if you break the law, you will face the consequences.”