BROOKLYN, Iowa – The Iowa college student who was allegedly kidnapped by a stranger while running last month in a small town died from stab wounds, a medical examiner says.
Authorities announced Thursday that the preliminary results of the autopsy from the state medical examiner’s office show the 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts was the victim of a murder that died from “multiple sharp force injuries.”
State medical examiner Dennis Klein said in an interview that the finding is a sharp or pointed object such as a knife was used to attack Tibbetts. He declined to comment on the details of her injuries, and said that his office would hire consultants, including forensic anthropologists, to examine her remains further and additional findings.
The man charged with first-degree murder in Tibbetts’ death, Cristhian Bahena Rivera, allegedly led investigators to her body early Tuesday in a cornfield outside of Brooklyn, Iowa, the town where the University of Iowa psychology was last seen for a month. While the researchers were convinced that the body was that of Tibbetts, the autopsy finally confirmed her identity.
The plaintiffs claim that Rivera kidnapped Tibbetts, while out for an evening run in Brooklyn on July 18, killed her and disposed of her body in the remote location.
A criminal complaint alleges that Rivera confessed during a lengthy interrogation that began Monday-following Tibbetts in his car, on foot, and behind her. Rivera told investigators that he panicked after Tibbetts threatened to call the police on her mobile phone, that he blacked out and later, when he was the unloading of her bloodied body on the trunk of a car, it says.
Rivera worked the past four years on a dairy farm a few miles from where Tibbetts was last seen. He and Tibbetts have no known connections, other than those of Rivera reportedly told the researchers that he saw her walk earlier. Researchers zeroed in on him as the suspect after obtaining footage from surveillance cameras in which a vehicle associated with him circling the area of Tibbetts’ route.
Earlier this week, the researchers said they were uncertain about how Tibbetts was killed, or that they are sexually abused. They have no mention of the repair of a knife or other weapon linked to the death.
Rivera, a native of Mexico, who is suspected of being in the U.S. illegally, made his first appearance on Wednesday and is jailed on a $5 million cash-only bond. He is faced with life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.
Within hours of the arrest, the President, Donald Trump seized on the news that Rivera was allegedly in the country illegally to call for tighter immigration laws. And in an interview that aired Thursday, he said on “Fox & Friends” that Tibbetts was a “beautiful girl” killed by a “terrible person who came from Mexico, illegally here.”
Trump has claimed that people in the U.S. illegally often commit crimes, but research by social scientists and the libertarian Cato Institute rejects that argument. The studies show that states with higher shares of people who are illegally in the netherlands have a lower violent crime.
The president also said that the suspect “by” agents of the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, an agency that some liberals have called for the abolition of the by the tactics which they view as overly harsh. An ICE spokesman said Thursday that the agents worked with the provincial and local researchers in “identifying, locating and interviewing the suspect.”
Division of Criminal Investigation spokesman Mitch Mortvedt agreed that ICE cream played a “significant role” in the case, especially in the help confirm Rivera’s identity and immigration status.
Rivera’s lawyer, Allan Richards, has denounced Trump card to move forward on his client’s guilt, saying the president’s comments would make it difficult for Rivera to a fair trial.
“Let’s let the process go,” he said Thursday. “The process to find the truth in a rational, peaceful and efficient manner. We are only at the preliminary stage.”
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