The Truly Horrific Crime Scene Of Mollie Tibbetts

On the evening of Wednesday, July 18, 2018, 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts seemingly vanished while jogging through the streets of Brooklyn, Iowa. As reported by KCRG, The University of Iowa student had been staying at her boyfriend's home, as he was out of town and she was caring for his dogs. The last reported sighting of Tibbetts was that evening at approximately 7:30 p.m.

The following morning, Tibbetts was scheduled to work at a day camp, which was sponsored by UnityPoint Grinnell Regional Medical Center. When she failed to show up for work, KCRG reports her employer contacted Tibbetts' boyfriend to let him know something was wrong.

Tibbetts was formally reported missing on July 19, 2018. According to KCRG the Poweshiek County Sheriff's Office immediately began an extensive search of the area surrounding the neighborhood where Tibbetts was last seen. However, they could not find any trace of the missing woman or any witnesses as to what may have happened.

Video surveillance helped authorities solve Mollie Tibbetts murder

In the weeks following Mollie Tibbetts' disappearance, state and federal law enforcement agencies, including the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, joined local law enforcement in their search for the missing woman. As reported by The Gazette, law enforcement officials eventually obtained video surveillance footage from a resident in the neighborhood where Tibbetts was last seen. In the video, Tibbetts can be seen jogging down the street. The officers also spotted a dark-colored Chevrolet Malibu driving past Tibbetts multiple times.

Authorities ultimately traced the vehicle to 24-year-old Cristhian Bahena Rivera, who was an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. The Gazette reports Rivera was questioned about Tibbetts' disappearance and he eventually admitted that he abducted and killed her.

Rivera said he spotted Tibbetts while she was jogging. He followed her for some time before parking his vehicle and approaching her on foot. According to Rivera, Tibbetts confronted him and told him she was going to call the police. Rivera said he panicked and essentially blacked out.

Cristhian Rivera said he does not remember killing Millie Tibbetts

According to The Gazette, Cristhian Bahena Rivera said he "came to" while stopped at an intersection. Rivera said it was then that he realized he abducted Mollie Tibbetts and placed her in the trunk. Rivera said when he opened the trunk, he noticed Tibbetts was severely injured, as she had blood on the side of her head. Rivera then drove Tibbetts to a corn field, where he dumped her body and covered her with corn leaves. Rivera was ultimately arrested and charged with first-degree murder.

As reported by CNN, the Iowa State Medical Examiner determined Tibbetts' manner of death was "homicide resulting from multiple sharp force injuries." KWWL reports Dr. Dennis Klein, who conducted the autopsy, testified during Rivera's trial. Klein said he "found nine definitive wounds" on Tibbetts' body. However, there may have been as many as 12. As her body had been in the cornfield for several weeks, decomposition made it difficult to identify all of the wounds.

Klein said Tibbetts was violently attacked, with a majority of the wounds on her upper spine and torso. Klein determined the injuries were likely inflicted by a knife with a "single edge" blade. 

Cristhian Rivera was convicted and sentenced to life in prison

KWWL reports the medical examiner could not determine which of the wounds were fatal or which direction Tibbetts was facing when she was attacked. However, as reported by the Des Moines Register, one of the wounds, which penetrated Tibbetts skull, was severe enough to have ended her life. Klein said another wound, which was in her hand, could have been a defensive wound — which would suggest she was attempting to fight back against the attack.

When Mollie Tibbetts' body was found, she was wearing black socks, running shoes, and a pink sports bra. As reported by The U.S. Sun, her black shorts, underwear, and what was presumed to be a headband, were found just over 30 feet away from Tibbetts' remains. Although prosecutors suggested Cristhian Bahena Rivera may have removed Tibbetts' clothing with plans to sexually assault her, their primary focus was proving Rivera was guilty of the abduction and murder.

According to NPR, Rivera was ultimately convicted of first-degree murder in Tibbetts' death. As Iowa does not have the death penalty, Rivera was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Although his defense team asked for a new trial based on Rivera's contention that others were involved, the judge denied the motion. Rivera is currently housed at the Iowa State Penitentiary in Poweshiek County, according to the Iowa Department of Corrections.