true crime

Mollie Tibbetts disappeared on her evening run. Now her killer has recounted her last moments.

On the evening of July 18, 2018, Mollie Tibbetts set out for her daily run.

The 20-year-old would never return home.

Mollie, a sophomore from the University of Iowa, lived in Brooklyn, a small town of just 1400 residents.

According to the Washington Post, when the keen runner didn’t turn up to her job at a local daycare centre the next morning, her concerned colleagues called her boyfriend of two years, Dalton Jack.

Dalton hadn’t heard from her either.

Dalton then called her family and together they contacted the local police department and reported the psychology student as missing.

Within days, a massive search was underway in the local area and Mollie’s disappearance had made international headlines.

Hundreds of people from the small town volunteered to scour the area, looking for any trace of Mollie. Five days later, the FBI and state investigators took over the investigation.

They soon discovered the last time Mollie was seen alive was two days before she went missing.

The Brooklyn native had been staying at Dalton’s house, and looking after his dogs, while he worked at his construction job 80 kilometres away.

He left for that job at 5am on July 16.

On the day of her disappearance, Dalton received two messages from Mollie – one text message and one Snapchat message.

The next morning, Dalton sent Mollie a message saying “good morning”, but never heard back from her.

Police quickly ruled out Dalton as a suspect in the case.

mollie tibbetts cristhian rivera
Image: Facebook.
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On July 26, Mitch Mortvedt, a spokesman for the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, said the investigating team had been searching several properties in the area, including a pig farm.

According to Fox News, police then received a tip which led them to a local man who had been taking photos of female runners from his car.

However, he was also ruled out as a suspect.

On August 1, Mollie's father, Rob, appeared on TV, pleading for anyone with information about his daughter's disappearance to come forward.

“The bottom line is somebody knows something,” he said. “You can’t do anything there without someone seeing it."

"Just come home, pie," he added. "We're looking, we'll find you."

Police then began questioning a local pig farmer called Wayne Cheney, who, in the past, had pleaded guilty to stalking two women.

Police searched his farm and found a red-t-shirt similar to one owned by Mollie, but he too was ruled out as a suspect.

On August 5, the body of woman in her 20s was discovered in rural Lee County, about an hour away from where Mollie was last seen.

Investigators then announced the body was not Mollie's.

The next day, Rob told Fox News he remained optimistic that his daughter was still alive and said he believed she could be with someone she knew.

"I think Mollie is with someone that she knows, that is in over their head," Rob told the news channel.

"That there was some kind of misunderstanding about the nature of their relationship and at this point they don't know how to get out from under this."

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On August 9, a local man named Devin Riley told reporters he may have been the last person to see Mollie alive.

Riley told Good Morning America he thinks he saw Mollie around 9 p.m. on the night she disappeared, according to ABC News.

"I remembered seeing her that night. I just felt very weird. Who knows when she was taken in that timeline, but I don't know what happened,"

"I've seen her probably three to four times per week. She'd kind of jog down the street and towards the hill," he said. "I thought nothing of it until I heard somebody was missing, and it really hit me that I hadn't seen that runner since then."

Image: Instagram.

"I remember her," he added. "She was wearing like a neon pink sports bra with black capri yoga pants and an armband with her music device, or phone... hair in a ponytail, just jogging like normal, any other day."

On August 21, Mollie's body was found in a corn field just outside of Brooklyn.

According to Fox News, her body was covered in corn stalks. There were several sharp wounds on her corpse.

Police then announced they had arrested a suspect. Cristhian Rivera is a 24-year-old Mexican immigrant who worked on a nearby farm.

He told police that on the night of her disappearance, he saw Mollie jogging alone.

According to the Washington Post, he drove past her several times. He then parked his car and began running alongside Mollie.

When Mollie told him she would call 911, he became "angry".

The suspect, who has been described as "quiet" by the local community, doesn't remember what happened next. He claims he blacks out when he becomes angry or upset.

The next thing he recalled was being in his car and finding an iPhone headphone earpiece in his lap that didn't belong to him. He then discovered Mollie's body in the trunk of his car. She was bleeding from the head and motionless.

Rivera then drove to the corn field and dragged, then carried, Mollie's body 60 feet into a isolated corn field. He covered her body in corn leaves and then walked away.

After being interviewed, Rivera led investigators to Mollie's body.

He was charged with first degree murder. He did not enter a plea during his court appearance on Wednesday and his bail was set at $5 million.

Since Rivera's arrest, President Donald Trump has tried to use Mollie's story to push his immigration agenda.

“She was killed by a horrible person that came in from Mexico, illegally here,” the president said on Twitter.

“A person came in from Mexico illegally and killed her,” he added. “We need the wall, we need our immigration laws changed, we need our border laws changed.

“We need Republicans to do it because the Democrats aren’t going to do it.”

However, Mollie's family have asked that her death not be “lost among politics”.

“Our family has been blessed to be surrounded by love, friendship and support throughout this entire ordeal by friends from all different nations and races,” Mollie's aunt, Billie Jo Calderwood, posted on Facebook.

“Please remember, Evil comes in EVERY colour."

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