STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Mollie Tibbetts murder enters political fray against family's wishes

The murder of Mollie Tibbetts has ignited new calls for tougher immigration laws after the arrest of an undocumented man. CNN's Dianne Gallagher reports.

Posted: Aug 23, 2018 7:10 PM
Updated: Aug 23, 2018 7:25 PM

A preliminary report from the autopsy on Mollie Tibbetts' body determined that her death was a "homicide resulting from multiple sharp force injuries," the Iowa State Medical Examiner said.

Tibbetts, a 20-year-old student at the University of Iowa, went missing after an evening jog on July 18, sparking an extensive month-long search in the region. A body that officials believed to be hers was found on Tuesday in a rural area, hidden under corn stalks, and the autopsy confirmed her identity.

"Sharp force injuries" are those caused by pointed or sharp-edged objects, such as in stab wounds, incised wounds and chop wounds, according to the medical news site Medscape.

Cristhian Bahena Rivera, a 24-year-old Mexican man who illegally came to the United States, was charged with her murder on Wednesday after he confessed to following her on her run. In an arrest affidavit, Rivera said he remembered getting mad at her; what happened afterward was "blocked" from his memory.

When he came to, he realized he had put a bleeding Tibbetts in his trunk, and then he carried her into a cornfield and left her there, the affidavit states.

Tibbetts' tragic death and the suspect's unauthorized immigration status have thrust the story to the forefront of the US immigration debate in the past few days.

President Donald Trump and other leading Republicans have argued that this case shows the need to maintain stricter border security and kick out undocumented immigrants.

However, studies have cast doubt on the argument that immigrants commit crimes more often than others. A study published in Justice Quarterly in 2012 found that "foreign-born individuals exhibit remarkably low levels of involvement in crime." Similarly, a study from Northwestern University found no correlation between immigrants and violent crime.

Rivera has not yet entered a plea in the case and is being held on $5 million bond. He has no criminal record and had worked at a local dairy farm for four years prior to his arrest.

Rick Rahn, special agent in charge at the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, said the suspect's motive was unclear.

"I can just tell you it seems that he followed her and seemed to be drawn to her on that particular day and for whatever reason, he chose to abduct her," Rahn said.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 35712

Reported Deaths: 2207
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion10037594
Lake3806202
Allen174371
Cass15927
Elkhart143529
St. Joseph132035
Hamilton118094
Hendricks118074
Johnson1120110
Madison59761
Porter55329
Clark52841
Bartholomew52238
Howard43734
LaPorte43624
Tippecanoe4214
Shelby39822
Jackson3942
Delaware38740
Hancock34928
Floyd32140
Boone31835
Vanderburgh2902
Morgan28324
Noble25121
Montgomery24417
Clinton2401
White2389
Decatur23031
Grant22123
Dubois2053
Harrison19622
Henry18412
Vigo1758
Greene17125
Dearborn17021
Monroe17012
Warrick16728
Kosciusko1661
Lawrence16524
Marshall1472
Miami1411
Putnam1377
Orange13122
Jennings1314
Scott1223
Franklin1158
Ripley1086
LaGrange1022
Daviess9516
Carroll933
Steuben872
Wayne865
Wabash802
Fayette797
Newton7810
Jasper701
Jay530
Clay522
Washington511
Rush503
Randolph503
Fulton501
Pulaski490
Jefferson471
Whitley443
DeKalb431
Starke393
Sullivan371
Owen341
Perry340
Huntington342
Brown331
Benton320
Wells320
Knox310
Blackford272
Tipton261
Crawford240
Fountain222
Switzerland210
Spencer211
Adams201
Gibson182
Parke180
Posey160
Ohio130
Warren121
Martin120
Vermillion100
Union90
Pike60
Unassigned0175
West Lafayette
Clear
86° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 89°
Kokomo
Scattered Clouds
81° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 84°
Rensselaer
Scattered Clouds
81° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 83°
Fowler
Scattered Clouds
81° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 83°
Williamsport
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 84°
Crawfordsville
Scattered Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 80°
Frankfort
Overcast
83° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 85°
Delphi
Scattered Clouds
80° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 82°
Monticello
Scattered Clouds
80° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 82°
Logansport
Scattered Clouds
81° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 83°
Isolated storms & humid......
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events