Locals shocked at suspect in Mollie’s murder
THE illegal immigrant who allegedly killed college student Mollie Tibbetts had worked for years at a farm owned by a prominent Iowa Republican family, a report said Tuesday night.
The New York Post reports that Cristhian Rivera - the 24-year-old man who is suspected of murdering Tibbetts while she was out jogging - was an "employee in good standing" at Yarrabee Farms, which is owned by the family of former Iowa official Craig Lang, according to the Des Moines Register.
In the statement, Mr Lang's brother Dane Lang said he was "shocked" to hear Rivera had been charged with a crime.
"This individual has worked at our farms for four years, was vetted through the government's E-Verify system, and was an employee in good standing," the statement read.
"Yarrabee Farms follows all laws related to verifying employees are legal to work in the United States."
Rivera had been in the US between four and seven years.
Craig Lang is the former president of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and a 2018 Republican candidate for state secretary of agriculture, according to the Register.
Following the arrest of Rivera, Republicans across the country including Iowa's governor blasted what they consider the lax immigration laws that led to Tibbetts' death.
"As Iowans, we are heartbroken, and we are angry," Governor Kim Reynolds wrote on Twitter.
"We are angry that a broken immigration system allowed a predator like this to live in our community, and we will do all we can to bring justice to Mollie's killer."
Surveillance video was used to track down Rivera, whose car was in footage that showed Tibbetts jogging in a rural area near her hometown of Brooklyn, Iowa, around 7:30pm on July 18.
During questioning, Rivera admitted making contact with Tibbetts, first by pursuing her in his car and then getting out and running beside her.
Rivera told investigators he became angry when Tibbetts showed a mobile phone and threatened to call police. He said he panicked and then "blocked" his memory.
Rivera claimed he did not recall what happened but found an earpiece from headphones in his lap and realised he'd put Tibbetts' in the boot of his car.
He opened the boot and noticed blood on the side of her head. The affidavit said he carried Tibbetts' body to a cornfield and covered her with corn stalks. When he was questioned by authorities, he led investigators to the site.