An Iowa jury has convicted Cristhian Bahena Rivera of first-degree murder in the 2018 death of 20-year-old University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts, PEOPLE confirms.
Tibbetts, a University of Iowa student, went out for a run on Wednesday, July 18, 2018, and never returned. The search for her drew national attention and kicked off a month-long investigation that ended when Bahena Rivera, a Mexican national who is now 26, led investigators to the rural cornfield where they found her remains.
Throughout the two-week trial, jurors heard that investigators identified Bahena Rivera’s car circling in the area where Tibbetts was last seen and that, during a marathon interview with police, he admitted to following Tibbetts, whom he found “hot.”
He told them he fought with her, and then, he said, he blacked out, later realizing that Tibbetts’ bloodied body was in his trunk. He said he carried her body to the cornfield and covered it with cornstalks. Forensic experts found smears of blood with Tibbetts’ DNA in his trunk.
The last time anyone saw Tibbetts alive was about 7:30 p.m. on July 18, 2018, as she was jogging in Brooklyn, a community of some 1,500 people in eastern Iowa, authorities said.
She reportedly sent her boyfriend a photo on Snapchat that he opened later that night. Then she vanished. Tibbetts was reported missing on July 19, 2018, when she failed to show up for her job at a nearby daycare. Source: desmoinesregister.com and People.com.