Politicians target immigration law after arrest in Mollie Tibbetts case

MONTEZUMA, Iowa (AP) — The disappearance of a well-liked college student from America's heartland had touched many people since she vanished one month ago while out for a run. But the stunning news that a Mexican man living in the U.S. illegally has allegedly confessed to kidnapping and murdering her thrust the case into the middle of the contentious immigration debate and midterm elections.

President Donald Trump seized on the man's arrest in the death of Mollie Tibbetts on Tuesday to call the nation's immigration laws "a disgrace" that will only be fixed by electing more Republicans. Iowa's Republican governor, facing a tough re-election challenge in November, blasted an immigration system that "allowed a predator like this to live in our community." And Iowa's two GOP U.S. senators called the death a tragedy that "could have been prevented."

Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in the death of the 20-year-old Tibbetts, whose July 18 disappearance set off a massive search involving state and federal authorities.

Rivera led investigators early Tuesday to a body believed to be Tibbetts in a cornfield about 12 miles (19 kilometers) southeast of Brooklyn, Iowa, where Tibbetts was last seen going for a routine evening run, Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation special agent Rick Rahn said.

"I can't speak about the motive. I can just tell you that it seemed that he followed her, seemed to be drawn to her on that particular day, for whatever reason he chose to abduct her," Rahn told reporters at a news conference outside the sheriff's office in Montezuma, where Rivera was being jailed on $1 million cash-only bond.

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Missing Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts found dead
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Missing Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts found dead
A ribbon for missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts hangs on a light post, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, in Brooklyn, Iowa. Tibbetts was reported missing from her hometown in the eastern Iowa city of Brooklyn in July 2018. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
This undated photo provided by the Iowa Department of Public Safety shows Cristhian Bahena Rivera. Authorities said on Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, that they have charged a man living in the U.S. illegally with murder in the death of Iowa college student, Mollie Tibbetts, who disappeared a month ago while jogging in a rural area. Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Special Agent Rick Rahn said that Rivera, 24, was charged with murder in the death of Tibbetts. (Iowa Department of Public Safety via AP)
A county truck blocks a gravel road, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, near Brooklyn, Iowa. Police say a body believed to be that of 20-year-old college student Mollie Tibbetts has been discovered in a rural area near where she went missing last month. University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts was reported missing from her hometown in the eastern Iowa city of Brooklyn in July 2018. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
People in the courtroom reacts after Cristhian Bahena Rivera's initial court appearance, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018, at the Poweshiek County Courthouse in Montezuma, Iowa. Rivera is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Mollie Tibbetts, who disappeared July 18 from Brooklyn, Iowa. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette via AP, Pool)
(Photo via Facebook)
Cristhian Bahena Rivera speaks with his attorney during his initial court appearance, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018, at the Poweshiek County Courthouse in Montezuma, Iowa. Rivera is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Mollie Tibbetts, who disappeared July 18 from Brooklyn, Iowa. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette via AP, Pool)
(Photo via Instagram)
A poster for missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts hangs in the window of a local business, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, in Brooklyn, Iowa. Tibbetts was reported missing from her hometown in the eastern Iowa city of Brooklyn in July 2018. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
My first experience as a best man went well🎉
Cristhian Bahena Rivera is escorted into the Poweshiek County Courthouse for his initial court appearance, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018, in Montezuma, Iowa. Rivera is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Mollie Tibbetts, who disappeared July 18 from Brooklyn, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
You guys really thought I was gonna let a birthday pass without a selfie?😎 (posting a day after but I took it on my birthday so whatever)
Just a Hawkeye with her hot guy 💛🖤
A poster for missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts hangs on the front door of a local business, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, in Brooklyn, Iowa. Police say a body believed to be that of 20-year-old college student Mollie Tibbetts has been discovered in a rural area near where she went missing last month.Tibbetts was reported missing from her hometown in the eastern Iowa city of Brooklyn in July 2018. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Happiest of birthdays to the person who made track bearable. Of all of the laps we ran together, the last one was the hardest (even if we made it the slowest) because we were ending quite an era😉 You are such a happy, hardworking, and genuine person, and I'm so lucky I get to call you my friend. Happy birthday my dude 😘😊
A ribbon for missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts hangs on a light post, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, in Brooklyn, Iowa. Police say a body believed to be that of 20-year-old college student Mollie Tibbetts has been discovered in a rural area near where she went missing last month. Tibbetts was reported missing from her hometown in the eastern Iowa city of Brooklyn in July 2018. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Cristhian Bahena Rivera is escorted into the Poweshiek County Courthouse for his initial court appearance, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018, in Montezuma, Iowa. Rivera is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Mollie Tibbetts, who disappeared July 18 from Brooklyn, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Currently wishing I was exploring water falls with best friend instead of sitting in an airport
A poster for missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts hangs in the window of a local business, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, in Brooklyn, Iowa. Tibbetts was reported missing from her hometown in the eastern Iowa city of Brooklyn in July 2018. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
I can't think of a caption but New York is cool
A poster for missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts hangs in the window of a local business, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, in Brooklyn, Iowa. Tibbetts was reported missing from her hometown in the eastern Iowa city of Brooklyn in July 2018. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Cristhian Bahena Rivera is lead into the courtroom for his initial court appearance, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018, at the Poweshiek County Courthouse in Montezuma, Iowa. Rivera is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Mollie Tibbetts, who disappeared July 18 from Brooklyn, Iowa. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette via AP, Pool)
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Within hours, Trump noted the arrest at a rally in West Virginia on a day when his former personal lawyer and ex-campaign chairman both faced major legal problems.

"You heard about today with the illegal alien coming in, very sadly, from Mexico and you saw what happened to that incredible, beautiful young woman," Trump told the crowd in Charleston. "Should've never happened. Illegally in our country. We've had a huge impact, but the laws are so bad. The immigration laws are such a disgrace, we're getting them changed, but we have to get more Republicans. We have to get 'em."

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said residents were heartbroken and angry. U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst vowed, "We cannot allow these tragedies to continue."

Trump has made further crackdown on illegal immigration a core policy of his administration. He often has claimed widespread crime by people living in the country illegally, citing among other things the indictments of 11 suspected MS-13 gang members from El Salvador charged in connection with the slayings of two Virginia teens. Trump also has held events at the White House with members of "angel families," whose relatives were killed by immigrants.

Although Trump claims legal U.S. residents are less likely to commit crime, several studies from social scientists and the libertarian think tank Cato Institute find that isn't accurate and states with a higher share of people living in the country illegally have lower violent crime rates.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it lodged a federal immigration detainer for Rivera after he was arrested on the murder charge. That move means the agency has probable cause to believe he is subject to deportation.

Investigators said they believed Rivera had lived in the area from four to seven years.

57 PHOTOS
Protesters demand end to President Trump's 'zero tolerance' immigration policy
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Protesters demand end to President Trump's 'zero tolerance' immigration policy
Immigration activists wrap themselves in silver blankets symbolizing immigrant children that were seen in what looked like aluminum foil blankets at a U.S.-Mexico border detention facility in Texas, while protesting inside the Hart Senate Office Building after marching to Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Actress Susan Sarandan joins with other women and immigration activists while rallying inside the Hart Senate Office Building after marching to Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Immigration activists rally inside the Hart Senate Office Building after marching to Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Hundreds of women and immigration activists wrap themselves in silver blankets symbolizing immigrant children that were seen in what looked like aluminum foil blankets at a U.S.-Mexico border detention facility in Texas, while protesting inside the Hart Senate Office Building after marching to Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Immigration activists wrap themselves in silver blankets symbolizing immigrant children that were seen in what looked like aluminum foil blankets at a U.S.-Mexico border detention facility in Texas, while protesting inside the Hart Senate Office Building after marching to Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) acknowledges activists inside the Hart Senate Office Building during a rally and march to Capitol Hill, held in opposition to the immigration policies of the Trump administration, in Washington, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) addresses protesters that marched from Freedom Plaza to the U.S. Capitol demonstrate inside the Hart Senate Office Building against family detentions and to demand the end of criminalizing efforts of asylum seekers and immigrants June 28, 2018 in Washington, DC. More than 1,000 women from 47 states took part in the march, with numerous arrests taking place during the sit-in at the Senate office building. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: Protesters that marched from Freedom Plaza to the U.S. Capitol demonstrate inside the Hart Senate Office Building against family detentions and to demand the end of criminalizing efforts of asylum seekers and immigrants June 28, 2018 in Washington, DC. More than 1,000 women from 47 states took part in the march, with numerous arrests taking place during the sit-in at the Senate office building. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: Protesters that marched from Freedom Plaza to the U.S. Capitol demonstrate inside the Hart Senate Office Building against family detentions and to demand the end of criminalizing efforts of asylum seekers and immigrants June 28, 2018 in Washington, DC. More than 1,000 women from 47 states took part in the march, with numerous arrests taking place during the sit-in at the Senate office building. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: Protesters that marched from Freedom Plaza to the U.S. Capitol demonstrate inside the Hart Senate Office Building against family detentions and to demand the end of criminalizing efforts of asylum seekers and immigrants June 28, 2018 in Washington, DC. More than 1,000 women from 47 states took part in the march, with numerous arrests taking place during the sit-in at the Senate office building. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: Protesters that marched from Freedom Plaza to the U.S. Capitol demonstrate inside the Hart Senate Office Building against family detentions and to demand the end of criminalizing efforts of asylum seekers and immigrants June 28, 2018 in Washington, DC. More than 1,000 women from 47 states took part in the march, with numerous arrests taking place during the sit-in at the Senate office building. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: Protesters that marched from Freedom Plaza to the U.S. Capitol demonstrate inside the Hart Senate Office Building against family detentions and to demand the end of criminalizing efforts of asylum seekers and immigrants June 28, 2018 in Washington, DC. More than 1,000 women from 47 states took part in the march, with numerous arrests taking place during the sit-in at the Senate office building. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: Protesters that marched from Freedom Plaza to the U.S. Capitol demonstrate inside the Hart Senate Office Building against family detentions and to demand the end of criminalizing efforts of asylum seekers and immigrants June 28, 2018 in Washington, DC. More than 1,000 women from 47 states took part in the march, with numerous arrests taking place during the sit-in at the Senate office building. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: Protesters that marched from Freedom Plaza to the U.S. Capitol demonstrate inside the Hart Senate Office Building against family detentions and to demand the end of criminalizing efforts of asylum seekers and immigrants June 28, 2018 in Washington, DC. More than 1,000 women from 47 states took part in the march, with numerous arrests taking place during the sit-in at the Senate office building. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: Protesters that marched from Freedom Plaza to the U.S. Capitol demonstrate inside the Hart Senate Office Building against family detentions and to demand the end of criminalizing efforts of asylum seekers and immigrants June 28, 2018 in Washington, DC. More than 1,000 women from 47 states took part in the march, with numerous arrests taking place during the sit-in at the Senate office building. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: Protesters that marched from Freedom Plaza to the U.S. Capitol demonstrate inside the Hart Senate Office Buildking against family detentions and to demand the end of criminalizing efforts of asylum seekers and immigrants June 28, 2018 in Washington, DC. More than 1,000 women from 47 states took part in the march, with numerous arrests taking place during the sit-in at the Senate office building. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 28: Hundreds of women crowd the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building to protest Trumps immigration policy on Thursday, June 28, 2018. Capitol Police moved in to make arrests to clear the area. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 28: Hundreds of women chant 'we care' in the Hart Senate Office Building to protest Trumps immigration policy on Thursday, June 28, 2018. Capitol Police moved in to make arrests to clear the area. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 28: Hundreds of women chant 'we care' in the Hart Senate Office Building to protest Trumps immigration policy on Thursday, June 28, 2018. Capitol Police moved in to make arrests to clear the area. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 28: Hundreds of women crowd the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building to protest Trumps immigration policy on Thursday, June 28, 2018. Capitol Police moved in to make arrests to clear the area. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 28: Hundreds of women crowd the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building to protest Trumps immigration policy on Thursday, June 28, 2018. Capitol Police moved in to make arrests to clear the area. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 28: Hundreds of women crowd the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building to protest Trumps immigration policy on Thursday, June 28, 2018. Capitol Police moved in to make arrests to clear the area. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
People demonstrate in Washington, DC, on June 28, 2018, demanding an end to the separation of migrant children from their parents. - US President Donald Trump urged divided Republicans on June 27 to support an immigration overhaul, though it appears doomed to fai, after a judge dealt a new blow to his 'zero tolerance' border policy by ordering that separated families be swiftly reunited. The repeatedly-delayed vote marks the umpteenth attempt by a deadlocked Congress to legislate a broad solution to the problem of illegal immigration, against the backdrop of a bitter political fight over the separation of migrant families at the Mexican border. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 28: Hundreds of women crowd the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building to protest Trumps immigration policy on Thursday, June 28, 2018. Capitol Police moved in to make arrests to clear the area. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
People demonstrate in Washington, DC, on June 28, 2018, demanding an end to the separation of migrant children from their parents. - US President Donald Trump urged divided Republicans on June 27 to support an immigration overhaul, though it appears doomed to fai, after a judge dealt a new blow to his 'zero tolerance' border policy by ordering that separated families be swiftly reunited. The repeatedly-delayed vote marks the umpteenth attempt by a deadlocked Congress to legislate a broad solution to the problem of illegal immigration, against the backdrop of a bitter political fight over the separation of migrant families at the Mexican border. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
People demonstrate in Washington, DC, on June 28, 2018, demanding an end to the separation of migrant children from their parents. - US President Donald Trump urged divided Republicans on June 27 to support an immigration overhaul, though it appears doomed to fai, after a judge dealt a new blow to his 'zero tolerance' border policy by ordering that separated families be swiftly reunited. The repeatedly-delayed vote marks the umpteenth attempt by a deadlocked Congress to legislate a broad solution to the problem of illegal immigration, against the backdrop of a bitter political fight over the separation of migrant families at the Mexican border. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
People demonstrate in Washington, DC, on June 28, 2018, demanding an end to the separation of migrant children from their parents. - US President Donald Trump urged divided Republicans on June 27 to support an immigration overhaul, though it appears doomed to fai, after a judge dealt a new blow to his 'zero tolerance' border policy by ordering that separated families be swiftly reunited. The repeatedly-delayed vote marks the umpteenth attempt by a deadlocked Congress to legislate a broad solution to the problem of illegal immigration, against the backdrop of a bitter political fight over the separation of migrant families at the Mexican border. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
People demonstrate in Washington, DC, on June 28, 2018, demanding an end to the separation of migrant children from their parents. - US President Donald Trump urged divided Republicans on June 27 to support an immigration overhaul, though it appears doomed to fai, after a judge dealt a new blow to his 'zero tolerance' border policy by ordering that separated families be swiftly reunited. The repeatedly-delayed vote marks the umpteenth attempt by a deadlocked Congress to legislate a broad solution to the problem of illegal immigration, against the backdrop of a bitter political fight over the separation of migrant families at the Mexican border. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
People demonstrate in Washington, DC, on June 28, 2018, demanding an end to the separation of migrant children from their parents. - US President Donald Trump urged divided Republicans on June 27 to support an immigration overhaul, though it appears doomed to fai, after a judge dealt a new blow to his 'zero tolerance' border policy by ordering that separated families be swiftly reunited. The repeatedly-delayed vote marks the umpteenth attempt by a deadlocked Congress to legislate a broad solution to the problem of illegal immigration, against the backdrop of a bitter political fight over the separation of migrant families at the Mexican border. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
People demonstrate in Washington, DC, on June 28, 2018, demanding an end to the separation of migrant children from their parents. - US President Donald Trump urged divided Republicans on June 27 to support an immigration overhaul, though it appears doomed to fai, after a judge dealt a new blow to his 'zero tolerance' border policy by ordering that separated families be swiftly reunited. The repeatedly-delayed vote marks the umpteenth attempt by a deadlocked Congress to legislate a broad solution to the problem of illegal immigration, against the backdrop of a bitter political fight over the separation of migrant families at the Mexican border. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
People demonstrate in Washington, DC, on June 28, 2018, demanding an end to the separation of migrant children from their parents. - US President Donald Trump urged divided Republicans on June 27 to support an immigration overhaul, though it appears doomed to fai, after a judge dealt a new blow to his 'zero tolerance' border policy by ordering that separated families be swiftly reunited. The repeatedly-delayed vote marks the umpteenth attempt by a deadlocked Congress to legislate a broad solution to the problem of illegal immigration, against the backdrop of a bitter political fight over the separation of migrant families at the Mexican border. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
People demonstrate in Washington, DC, on June 28, 2018, demanding an end to the separation of migrant children from their parents. - US President Donald Trump urged divided Republicans on June 27 to support an immigration overhaul, though it appears doomed to fai, after a judge dealt a new blow to his 'zero tolerance' border policy by ordering that separated families be swiftly reunited. The repeatedly-delayed vote marks the umpteenth attempt by a deadlocked Congress to legislate a broad solution to the problem of illegal immigration, against the backdrop of a bitter political fight over the separation of migrant families at the Mexican border. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
People demonstrate in Washington, DC, on June 28, 2018, demanding an end to the separation of migrant children from their parents. - US President Donald Trump urged divided Republicans on June 27 to support an immigration overhaul, though it appears doomed to fai, after a judge dealt a new blow to his 'zero tolerance' border policy by ordering that separated families be swiftly reunited. The repeatedly-delayed vote marks the umpteenth attempt by a deadlocked Congress to legislate a broad solution to the problem of illegal immigration, against the backdrop of a bitter political fight over the separation of migrant families at the Mexican border. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: Protesters gather in Freedom Plaza to march against family detentions and to demand the end of criminalizing efforts of asylum seekers and immigrants June 28, 2018 in Washington, DC. More than 1,000 women from 47 states took part in the march that will end later today at the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
People demonstrate in Washington, DC, on June 28, 2018, demanding an end to the separation of migrant children from their parents. - US President Donald Trump urged divided Republicans on June 27 to support an immigration overhaul, though it appears doomed to fai, after a judge dealt a new blow to his 'zero tolerance' border policy by ordering that separated families be swiftly reunited. The repeatedly-delayed vote marks the umpteenth attempt by a deadlocked Congress to legislate a broad solution to the problem of illegal immigration, against the backdrop of a bitter political fight over the separation of migrant families at the Mexican border. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: Protesters gather in Freedom Plaza to march against family detentions and to demand the end of criminalizing efforts of asylum seekers and immigrants June 28, 2018 in Washington, DC. More than 1,000 women from 47 states took part in the march that will end later today at the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: Protesters march outside the U.S. Department of Justice to demonstrate against family detentions and to demand the end of criminalizing efforts of asylum seekers and immigrants June 28, 2018 in Washington, DC. More than 1,000 women from 47 states took part in the march that will end later today at the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: Protesters march from Freedom Plaza to demonstrate against family detentions and to demand the end of criminalizing efforts of asylum seekers and immigrants June 28, 2018 in Washington, DC. More than 1,000 women from 47 states took part in the march that will end later today at the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: Protesters march from Freedom Plaza to demonstrate against family detentions and to demand the end of criminalizing efforts of asylum seekers and immigrants June 28, 2018 in Washington, DC. More than 1,000 women from 47 states took part in the march that will end later today at the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: Protesters march from Freedom Plaza to demonstrate against family detentions and to demand the end of criminalizing efforts of asylum seekers and immigrants June 28, 2018 in Washington, DC. More than 1,000 women from 47 states took part in the march that will end later today at the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: Protesters march from Freedom Plaza to demonstrate against family detentions and to demand the end of criminalizing efforts of asylum seekers and immigrants June 28, 2018 in Washington, DC. More than 1,000 women from 47 states took part in the march that will end later today at the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: Protesters march past the U.S. Department of Justice t to demonstrate against family detentions and to demand the end of criminalizing efforts of asylum seekers and immigrants June 28, 2018 in Washington, DC. More than 1,000 women from 47 states took part in the march that will end later today at the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: Protesters march from Freedom Plaza to demonstrate against family detentions and to demand the end of criminalizing efforts of asylum seekers and immigrants June 28, 2018 in Washington, DC. More than 1,000 women from 47 states took part in the march that will end later today at the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: Protesters march from Freedom Plaza to demonstrate against family detentions and to demand the end of criminalizing efforts of asylum seekers and immigrants June 28, 2018 in Washington, DC. More than 1,000 women from 47 states took part in the march that will end later today at the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: Protesters march from Freedom Plaza to demonstrate against family detentions and to demand the end of criminalizing efforts of asylum seekers and immigrants June 28, 2018 in Washington, DC. More than 1,000 women from 47 states took part in the march that will end later today at the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: Protesters march from Freedom Plaza to demonstrate against family detentions and to demand the end of criminalizing efforts of asylum seekers and immigrants June 28, 2018 in Washington, DC. More than 1,000 women from 47 states took part in the march that will end later today at the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: Protesters march from Freedom Plaza to demonstrate against family detentions and to demand the end of criminalizing efforts of asylum seekers and immigrants June 28, 2018 in Washington, DC. More than 1,000 women from 47 states took part in the march that will end later today at the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: Protesters march from Freedom Plaza to demonstrate against family detentions and to demand the end of criminalizing efforts of asylum seekers and immigrants June 28, 2018 in Washington, DC. More than 1,000 women from 47 states took part in the march that will end later today at the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: Protesters demonstrate in Freedom Plaza against family detentions and to demand the end of criminalizing efforts of asylum seekers and immigrants June 28, 2018 in Washington, DC. More than 1,000 women from 47 states took part in the march that will end later today at the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: Protesters march from Freedom Plaza to demonstrate against family detentions and to demand the end of criminalizing efforts of asylum seekers and immigrants June 28, 2018 in Washington, DC. More than 1,000 women from 47 states took part in the march that will end later today at the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: Protesters demonstrate in Freedom Plaza against family detentions and to demand the end of criminalizing efforts of asylum seekers and immigrants June 28, 2018 in Washington, DC. More than 1,000 women from 47 states took part in the march that will end later today at the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: Protesters march from Freedom Plaza to demonstrate against family detentions and to demand the end of criminalizing efforts of asylum seekers and immigrants June 28, 2018 in Washington, DC. More than 1,000 women from 47 states took part in the march that will end later today at the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
People demonstrate in Washington, DC, on June 28, 2018, demanding an end to the separation of migrant children from their parents. - US President Donald Trump urged divided Republicans on June 27 to support an immigration overhaul, though it appears doomed to fai, after a judge dealt a new blow to his 'zero tolerance' border policy by ordering that separated families be swiftly reunited. The repeatedly-delayed vote marks the umpteenth attempt by a deadlocked Congress to legislate a broad solution to the problem of illegal immigration, against the backdrop of a bitter political fight over the separation of migrant families at the Mexican border. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
People demonstrate in Washington, DC, on June 28, 2018, demanding an end to the separation of migrant children from their parents. - US President Donald Trump urged divided Republicans on June 27 to support an immigration overhaul, though it appears doomed to fai, after a judge dealt a new blow to his 'zero tolerance' border policy by ordering that separated families be swiftly reunited. The repeatedly-delayed vote marks the umpteenth attempt by a deadlocked Congress to legislate a broad solution to the problem of illegal immigration, against the backdrop of a bitter political fight over the separation of migrant families at the Mexican border. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
People demonstrate in Washington, DC, on June 28, 2018, demanding an end to the separation of migrant children from their parents. - US President Donald Trump urged divided Republicans on June 27 to support an immigration overhaul, though it appears doomed to fai, after a judge dealt a new blow to his 'zero tolerance' border policy by ordering that separated families be swiftly reunited. The repeatedly-delayed vote marks the umpteenth attempt by a deadlocked Congress to legislate a broad solution to the problem of illegal immigration, against the backdrop of a bitter political fight over the separation of migrant families at the Mexican border. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
People demonstrate in Washington, DC, on June 28, 2018, demanding an end to the separation of migrant children from their parents. - US President Donald Trump urged divided Republicans on June 27 to support an immigration overhaul, though it appears doomed to fai, after a judge dealt a new blow to his 'zero tolerance' border policy by ordering that separated families be swiftly reunited. The repeatedly-delayed vote marks the umpteenth attempt by a deadlocked Congress to legislate a broad solution to the problem of illegal immigration, against the backdrop of a bitter political fight over the separation of migrant families at the Mexican border. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
People demonstrate in Washington, DC, on June 28, 2018, demanding an end to the separation of migrant children from their parents. - US President Donald Trump urged divided Republicans on June 27 to support an immigration overhaul, though it appears doomed to fai, after a judge dealt a new blow to his 'zero tolerance' border policy by ordering that separated families be swiftly reunited. The repeatedly-delayed vote marks the umpteenth attempt by a deadlocked Congress to legislate a broad solution to the problem of illegal immigration, against the backdrop of a bitter political fight over the separation of migrant families at the Mexican border. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
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In a statement late Tuesday, Yarrabee Farms said Rivera had worked at its farms for the last four years and was an employee in good standing. The Brooklyn-based company said it was shocked to hear that Rivera was charged in Tibbetts' death. Yarrabee Farms is owned by the family of Craig Lang, a prominent Republican who previously served as president of the Iowa Farm Bureau.

A search of Iowa court records revealed no prior criminal history, and it's unclear whether he had ever been subject to prior deportation proceedings.

Rivera's Facebook page described him as being from Guayabillo, a community of less than 500 people in the Mexican state of Guerrero. It's about a three-hour drive from the resort city of Acapulco.

Investigators said they zeroed in on Rivera after obtaining footage from surveillance cameras in Brooklyn. The footage showed a Chevy Malibu connected to Rivera that was driving back and forth as Tibbetts was running in the area, Rahn said.

The affidavit said Rivera panicked and then said he blacked out

An affidavit attached to the criminal complaint against Rivera alleged that he admitted to investigators he got out of his car and started running alongside Tibbetts.

Tibbetts grabbed her phone and said she was going to call the police. The affidavit said Rivera panicked and then said he blacked out. Rivera next remembers seeing her earphones on his lap, and taking her bloody body out of the trunk of his car, it said.

"The defendant further described during the interview that he dragged Tibbetts on foot from his vehicle to a secluded location in a cornfield," the affidavit said.

Investigators said they had earlier searched the area for Tibbetts but didn't find her, noting the body was covered by corn stalks when recovered early Tuesday.

Rahn said Rivera was cooperating with investigators and speaking with the help of a translator. He said an autopsy would be performed on the body Wednesday by the state medical examiner's office, which would assist investigators in understanding whether Tibbetts had been assaulted or tried to fight him off.

Rivera's initial court appearance is scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday in Montezuma.

A conviction on first-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole in Iowa, which doesn't have the death penalty.

Tibbetts' disappearance set off a massive search involving dozens of officers from the FBI, as well as state and local agencies. They focused much of their efforts in and around Brooklyn, searching farm fields, ponds and homes. Investigators asked anyone who was around five locations, including a car wash, a truck stop and a farm south of town, to report if they saw anything suspicious on July 18.

'It never crossed our mind that she wouldn't come home safe'

Last week, Vice President Mike Pence met privately with the Tibbetts family during a visit to Iowa and told them that "you're on the hearts of every American."

At Brooklyn City Hall, city clerk Sheri Sharer said Tuesday was a sad day for the town.

"It never crossed our mind that she wouldn't come home safe," she said.

The University of Iowa mourned the loss of Tibbetts, a psychology major who would have started her junior year this week.

"We are deeply saddened that we've lost a member of the University of Iowa community," said university official Melissa Shivers, who urged students to seek counseling and other support services as needed.

Rahn said he met with the parents and other relatives of Tibbetts to inform them of the arrest Tuesday. He told them that the investigation revealed that they had "raised a great daughter."

"We got to know Mollie," he said. "She was a phenomenal individual."

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