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Cristhian Rivera, accused of killing college student Mollie Tibbetts, held on $5M bond

A judge on Wednesday ordered the man accused of killing University of Iowa sophomore Mollie Tibbetts be held on a $5 million cash bond as he awaits trial on a murder charge. 

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Update 2:50 p.m. EDT Aug 22: A judge set bond for Cristhian Bahena Rivera during his initial appearance in court on Wednesday, WOI-DT reported.

In a court filing Wednesday, Rivera’s attorney, Allan M. Richards, disputed reports that his client was in the country illegally, citing an employer who has said Rivera is in the U.S. legally. The document names Craig Lang, a former head of the Iowa Board of Regents who is co-owner of a dairy that employed Rivera.

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The Lang family said in a statement Tuesday that Rivera's immigration status had been confirmed by an E-Verify electronic immigration status check.

Richards asked the court to prevent the government from claiming Rivera is in the country illegally.

Update 2:25 p.m. EDT Aug. 22: The family of Mollie Tibbetts, the 20-year-old University of Iowa sophomore who was found dead Tuesday after vanishing a month earlier, thanked supporters in a statement released Wednesday by officials.

“Our hearts are broken,” the family said and the statement, released by the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigations. “On behalf of Mollie’s entire family, we thank all of those from around the world who have sent their thoughts and prayers for our girl. We know that many of you will join us as we continue to carry Mollie in our hearts forever.”

The family asked for privacy as they work to “process our devastating loss.”

Tibbetts, 20, was reported missing July 19, one day after she was last seen jogging in the town of Brooklyn, Iowa.

Authorities arrested Cristhian Bahena Rivera, a Mexican man who was living in the U.S. illegally, a murder charge Tuesday after he confessed to kidnapping and killing Tibbetts, officials said Tuesday. He was expected to appear in court on Wednesday afternoon.

Update 5:31 p.m. EDT Aug. 21: Police said that Cristhian Bahena Rivera has been charged with murder in the death of Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts.

A charge of 1st degree murder has been filed against the 24-year-old. If convicted, the charge carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

 

Investigators said they used surveillance video in tracking down Rivera. Video showed Tibbetts jogging in a rural area near her hometown of Brooklyn as well as Rivera’s car.

Police had searched the area but noted her body was found in a field, covered with corn stalks.

>> Who is Cristhian Bahena Rivera, suspect in Mollie Tibbetts' death?

Original report: Authorities have found the body of University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts, who vanished last month after going for a run in Brooklyn, Iowa, according to multiple reports.

Greg Willey of Crime Stoppers of Central Iowa confirmed to The Associated Press that investigators found a body Tuesday morning believed to be that of Tibbetts, 20. Willey told the AP one of Tibbetts’ close family friends told him about the discovery.

Fox News and CBS News also reported Tibbetts' body was found Tuesday, citing unnamed sources.

>> Mollie Tibbetts search: New video surfaces, Iowa man says he saw her jogging

In a statement released Tuesday morning, officials with the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation confirmed that authorities found a body in rural Poweshiek County.

“Investigators are working to confirm the identity,” the statement said.

Authorities were expected to provide additional information at a news conference scheduled for 4 p.m. local time Tuesday.

“There will be no further information related from law enforcement until the press conference,” according to officials with the Iowa DCI.

Tibbetts, 20, was last seen July 18 in Brooklyn, a town with a population of about 1,400 in central Iowa. Investigators said she was last seen on a routine jog through the streets of the city. It’s unclear whether she returned to the home where she was dog-sitting for her boyfriend and her boyfriend’s brother, who have said they were both out of town.

The college sophomore was reported missing the next day, after she didn’t show up for her job at a local day care. 

A massive search was launched after her disappearance. Authorities received thousands of tips.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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