Mollie Tibbetts: Timeline of Iowa student's death; Cristhian Bahena Rivera updates

KABC logo
Monday, August 27, 2018
Mollie Tibbetts timeline
Here's what we know about the night Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts disappeared.

BROOKLYN, Iowa -- More than a month after Mollie Tibbetts was last seen, authorities announced they found her body and that Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, had been charged with murder.

RELATED: The latest on the Mollie Tibbetts investigation

Here's a detailed timeline of the entire case dating back to her disappearance.

Sunday, August 26

Tibbetts' funeral was held at the gymnasium of BGM High School in Brooklyn. AP reports that "several hundred people" came to pay their respects.

Friday, August 24

ABC News learned that Tibbetts and Rivera's girlfriend went to the same high school and were friends on Facebook. Investigators said this does not necessarily mean they know each other and that they could have simply connected because they went to the same school in a small town.

Plans were announced for Tibbetts' funeral, which will be Sunday, August 26.

Thursday, August 23

In reference to the debate surrounding Rivera's immigration status, Mollie's aunt, Billie Jo Calderwood, told CNN "I don't want Mollie's memory to get lost amongst politics" but said she is only speaking for herself.

Also on Thursday, the Iowa Department of Transportation confirmed that Rivera did not have any type of state-issued ID, including a license, KCRG reports.

A preliminary autopsy report found that Tibbetts died of "multiple sharp force injuries," indicating she was stabbed to death.

Wednesday, August 22

Tibbetts' family released a statement:

"Our hearts are broken.
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.
At this time, our family asks that we be allowed the time to process our devastating loss and share our grief in private.
Again, thank you for the outpouring of love and support that has been shared in Mollie's name. We remain forever grateful."

Also on Wednesday, Rivera made his first court appearance. He did not enter a plea.

His bond was set at $5 million, cash-only. His next hearing will be on August 31.

Rivera's lawyer, Allan M. Richards, said in court documents that Rivera was in the country legally. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services responded to say there is "no record" that Rivera is here legally.

RELATED: Mollie Tibbetts murder suspect Cristhian Bahena Rivera worked under fake name

Amid this confusion about Rivera's immigration status, the White House released a video suggesting that Tibbetts' case highlighted a need for immigration reform.

Also on Wednesday, a vigil was held for Mollie at the University of Iowa.

Tuesday, August 21: Body Found

Authorities found her body. Mollie's father, Rob, told ABC News he did not have any comment at this time.

A medical examiner arrived at a rural area near Guernsey, about a 15-minute drive south of Brooklyn, KOI reports.

Police said Rivera, who they said is an undocumented immigrant, was charged with murder in the death of Mollie Tibbetts.

Rivera's employers, Yarrabee Farms, said on Tuesday that Rivera had passed a government background check called E-Verify. They held a press conference on Wednesday to correct this information, stating that an older system had been used and that Rivera had been working under a fake name.

Saturday, August 18

Rob Tibbetts told KCRG he's "very reluctantly" returning to California. Law enforcement had encouraged the family to return to their normal lives and let investigators continue with the search. Tibbetts said they had moved their sons into college earlier in the week and that they had passed by the place that was supposed to be Mollie's home for her sophomore year.

Wednesday, August 15

The family met with Vice President Mike Pence on Air Force Two. The vice president took a moment during a speech at an America First Policies "Tax Cuts to Put America First" event to pause and focus on Tibbetts. He emphasized that the federal government would continue to provide resources to the search.

"As a father I can't imagine what the family of Mollie Tibbetts is going through," he said. "We will continue to work and we will continue to pray for Mollie's safe return."

Monday, August 13

At a press conference, officials urged the public to think back to the days surrounding her disappearance and note any strange behavior by others.

"Often there are individuals who are unknowingly associated with the offender of a crime and may be in a position to observe behavioral changes in that person," said Mitch Mortvedt of DCI. "They will recognize the change, and may even question them about it, but will not relate the change to that person's involvement in a crime."

Authorities announced a website to help with the search, which resulted in more than 1,500 new tips in the first day.

Sunday, August 12

Marry Ellen O'Toole, a former FBI profiler, told KCRG on Sunday that she believes it's likely that Tibbetts left with someone she knew.

"I think the most likely scenario is that Mollie was at least somewhat familiar with the person that she went with, or the person that she went with was someone that she viewed as non-threatening to her," she said.

On Sunday evening, friends gathered in the Bay Area, where Tibbetts lived as a young child, to hold a prayer service.

Thursday, August 9

Brooklyn man Devin Riley told ABC News he believes he was possibly the last person to see Tibbetts. He believes he saw her jog past her home the night she went missing. When he realized the missing woman looked like the woman he saw, he contacted authorities.

"I wish I did know more, but I dread that maybe I was the last person to see her," he said. "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."

Wednesday, August 8

As the $300,000 reward for information continues to climb, friends and family are sharing new videos that show Mollie's playful nature.

Video taken by Mollie Tibbetts' friend shows the missing college student's fun-loving personality. The first clip was taken the day before she went missing.

Tuesday, August 7

Mollie's father Rob shared a new theory with ABC News. He believes someone who knows Mollie took her, and he's pleading with them to send her home safe.

"It's totally speculation," he said, "but I do believe that Mollie is with someone who she knows, probably someone who cares about her. But that relationship was misguided, misinterpreted and went wrong, and I think they're in a place with Mollie and don't know how to get themselves out of this horrible situation."

Sunday, August 5

Authorities found the body of a white female in her 20s about 100 miles from where Tibbetts lives, but authorities later said it was not Tibbetts. The reward is now up to $260,000.

Friday, August 3

It was announced that the reward fund has climbed to $200,000.

In a press conference, authorities said they did not have updates for the public about the search for Tibbetts and would not give information as to whether there is a person of interest or whether the investigation has confirmed any foul play. The investigation continues to be treated as a missing person case.

A representative from the Iowa Missing Persons Information Clearinghouse said that it is unusual for a missing person to be categorized as "involuntary." There are only 26 cases listed as "involuntary disappearance" out of the 390 people listed in the state database. The involuntary disappearances date back to 1976.

Tibbetts is currently categorized in the database as "Other adult missing."

Thursday, August 2

Mollie's family held a press conference with Crime Stoppers of Central Iowa to discuss the "Bring Mollie Tibbetts Home Safe Reward Fund," which had grown to $172,000. The tipline that has been set up is anonymous.

Tibbetts' father, mother and boyfriend spoke at the press conference. Her dad said he hopes the money will convince someone to share information even if they think it's too small of a detail or might incriminate a loved one.

"Nothing is irrelevant. Nothing is trivial," he said."If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. So come forward, share that information with authorities, and let's bring Mollie home."

On Thursday afternoon, there was a large police presence on a highway between Guernsey and Deep River, a little more than a dozen miles from Brooklyn. A homeowner near the police presence said that it had to do with the Tibbetts case, KCRG reports.

Wednesday, August 1

On this day, Tibbetts was scheduled to leave with Jack for his brother's wedding in the Dominican Republic. She was supposed to be the maid of honor, her mom said.

The groom, Blake Jack, once joked to his brother that he should propose to Tibbetts on the trip, he told the Associated Press.

The reward for Tibbetts' safe return jumped from $2,000 to $30,000.

Tuesday, July 31

Blake Jack told the Associated Press that his wedding plans were postponed. He said that's nothing compared to what Tibbetts family is going through.

At a press conference, Kevin Winker, director of investigative operations for the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, declined to share additional details in the interest of the case. Authorities have followed upwards of 200 leads. They are still receiving and following new tips and encouraged the public to continue using the tipline.

Monday, July 30

Rob spoke to ABC News, begging the public to focus on the efforts to find his daughter and to send in any information they could think of.

"It doesn't matter what we're going through," he said. "We just need people to think. Somebody knows something, and they don't even know it's important."

Sunday, July 29

The reward for information that helps find Tibbetts increased from $1,000 to $2,000. That's because a power utility company in Brooklyn, TIP Rural Electric Cooperative, made a pledge to double the existing reward, KCRG reports.

The latest post in the Facebook group said there is no new information and asked members to keep sharing about her story to get the word out.

Friday, July 27

Laura Calderwood spoke to ABC News again to express her hope that Tibbetts will be home soon.

"If it were me that were missing, Mollie wouldn't give up hope," she said. "You won't see me giving up hope. That's not an option."

In a press release, Iowa DCI said there are no suspects yet.

"With the aide of the public, investigative leads continue to be investigated and a multitude of individuals have been interviewed," the statement said. "Additionally, a number of searches have been conducted to include ground, air and K-9 searches."

DCI encouraged anyone with information to continue to send in tips. They told KCRG they are still treating the investigation like it's Day 1 of the search and emphasize that it's still considered a rescue mission, not a recovery mission.

"We think she's still alive," a DCI rep told KCRG.

Mollie's father Rob, who lives in Fresno and works in the Bay Area, spoke out to ABC30. Rob Tibbetts pleaded for anyone with information to send in tips.

"We are a tough, resilient family. We're fighting like hell. This isn't about us, this is about Mollie," he said.

Rob said Mollie was the best man at his wedding in early June.

Thursday, July 26

On this day, police in Kearney, Missouri responded to a possible sighting of Tibbetts at a truck stop. They conducted a search and interviewed witnesses before sending a report to investigators in Iowa. One individual claims to have seen her, and police could not find any surveillance video to confirm the report, according to ABC News. The woman turned out not to be Tibbetts, Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation special agent Mike Krapfl confirmed to the Associated Press on August 2.

Authorities searched two hog farms about 15 minutes outside of Brooklyn, KCRG reports. Agencies continue to receive tips but there are still no suspects.

"You know, as long as we still have information coming in and we feel that we're being productive, which we feel that we are, there's been no talk about that amongst the investigative group with all the agencies involved," said Iowa DCI agent Mitch Mortvedt.

Wednesday, July 25

Tibbetts' family told WOI that they are spreading out across the state to distribute posters and spread the word.

Kriegel gave WOI an update on the investigation. He said investigators are working with hundreds of tips that are coming in and that he also believes there will be useful information from her Fitbit.

When asked whether there is a reason to believe she may have been abducted, Kriegel said, "Well we are worried about that."

Kriegel told ABC News that Jack's alibi was confirmed and he is not a suspect, and neither is his brother. Tibbetts' two brothers have also been cleared and are not suspects.

Tuesday, July 24

Tibbetts' brothers, Scott and Jake, expressed their hopes and their worries in an interview with ABC News.

"It's been a whirlwind," Jake said. "We've gone from sad to worried to just anxious and clueless. We've been to every emotion there is. Now it's just patience. That's the hardest one, probably."

Jake said they'd been getting up at 5 a.m. to look for her "in every field, every ditch, every creek."

Scott said he knows that wherever his sister is, she's trying to get home.

"She's a better fighter than anyone I know," he said. "So whatever situation she's in, it's not like she's going to sit there and give up."

An update on the Facebook group thanked everyone for the support and said there are no updates.

Monday, July 23

Jack spoke with WOI and ABC News. He said he's optimistic that Tibbetts will be home soon and that if she can hear him he wants her to know that "I miss you so much, and I love you."

Jack said he is continuing to send text messages to Tibbetts, though they all remain unread.

Tibbetts' mother, Laura Calderwood, also spoke to the media.

"She is just such an outgoing, fun, loving life, loving person," she told ABC News. "She was getting ready to move into her first apartment."

She added that there are "no words to describe how you feel when you don't know where or how your child is."

She also said Jack's brother is scheduled to get married in the Dominican Republic on August 2. Tibbetts had been planning to go with Jack to the wedding and she is close to the bride and groom, her mom said.

Poweshiek County Sheriff Thomas Kriegel told ABC News this is the longest anyone in the tight-knit community has been missing in his memory. He said in addition to the searches on foot, a plane, a helicopter and kayakers have gone out looking for her.

"We're surrounded by farm ground -- corn and soy beans. Right now the corn is probably eight, nine feet tall. The only way you can search it is basically walk down every other row," he said. "It's difficult. Even the planes flying over have a difficulty looking down in the corn row."

Friday, July 20

A Facebook group called "Finding Mollie Tibbetts" was created to help find her. The group is used to distribute fliers and organize the search.

WOI reports that hundreds of people turned out to help with the search. The public is asked to contact the Poweshiek County Sheriff's Office with any tips.

The University of Iowa, where Tibbetts is due to be a sophomore, releases a statement that they are monitoring the situation and offering support where needed.

Sunday, July 22

Authorities said there is no new information. Tibbetts' case gains more attention on social media, including tweets from notable figures with ties to Iowa such as actor Tom Arnold, NBA player Harrison Barnes and NFL rookie Josey Jewell.

Thursday, July 19: Reported missing

Morning: Jack sent Tibbetts a message, but he said he didn't notice it went unread.

Afternoon: Tibbetts worked at a day camp. A coworker of Tibbetts' called Jack to tell him she hadn't shown up for work and also hadn't called in sick. Jack began calling loved ones, none of whom had seen her at any time on Thursday.

Later Thursday: Tibbetts' family reported her missing to police on Thursday.

Wednesday, July 18: Night of the murder

5:30 p.m.: Tibbetts' older brother, Jake, dropped Mollie off at her boyfriend's house, where she was still staying alone with the dogs. Investigators said Jake Tibbetts is not a suspect.

7:30 p.m According to a "reasonable timeline" constructed by authorities, Tibbetts went for a jog around this time and was seen running on the city streets of Brooklyn.

8:30 p.m. Brooklyn man Devin Riley said he saw a woman jog past his home around this time that he later believed to be Tibbetts. When he realized what he had seen, he contacted authorities.

RELATED: Everything we know about the Mollie Tibbetts case

Prior to Rivera's arrest, loved ones had told the press that authorities believed she may have returned home from her run, but Rivera told authorities that he remembers "making contact" with a woman who was out running. It is unclear what time this occurred.

According to court documents, Rivera "blocked out" a part of his memory. He said he remembers running alongside her and Tibbetts threatening to call police, but he does not remember what happened next.

Rivera said he then remembers being in his car and realizing there was a woman in the trunk. He then left Tibbetts, who was bleeding, in a cornfield, according to court documents.

10 p.m. Jack opened a SnapChat from Tibbetts. The snap contained a selfie Tibbetts took, and Jack said she appeared to be inside. It's unclear what time the photo was taken, but investigators believe it was taken on Wednesday.

Tuesday, July 17: Her boyfriend leaves town

Jack drove to his job at a construction company about 100 miles away, according to ABC News. Tibbetts was living with Dalton and his brother, Blake, for the summer.

Her boyfriend was still away when Tibbetts was discovered missing. Blake was also away visiting his fiancee in Ames, he told the Associated Press. Tibbetts was watching Blake's dogs for him.

Early in the case, police cleared both Dalton and Blake Jack as suspects.

Also on this day, video of Mollie was taken by a friend in which she shows her playful personality.

Monday, July 16

This was the last day Dalton Jack, Tibbetts' high school sweetheart, said he saw his girlfriend in person.


What happened to Mollie Tibbetts? Everything we know about the case

Who is Cristhian Bahena Rivera? What we know about the suspect

A history of women murdered while jogging