Mollie Tibbetts Murder Suspect 'Not Who He Said He Was'

Employer says Cristhian Rivera went by another name for 4 years
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 23, 2018 6:41 AM CDT
Tibbetts Suspect 'Not Who He Said He Was'
Cristhian Bahena Rivera is lead into the courtroom for his initial court appearance Wednesday at the Poweshiek County Courthouse in Montezuma, Iowa.   (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette via AP, Pool)

One of roughly 10 employees at Yarrabee Farms in rural Poweshiek County, Iowa, the 24-year-old lived in a mobile home on the property, always showed up for work, and got along with his co-workers as he took care of the cows over the course of four years. It was only Tuesday that his employers learned his real name. Cristhian Rivera, accused of killing 20-year-old University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts, used a different name associated with an out-of-state government ID and matching Social Security card when he got a job at the dairy farm through a former girlfriend in 2014, reports the Des Moines Register. When the information was run though the Social Security Administration's verification service, everything checked out, farm manager Dane Lang tells the AP.

But "our employee was not who he said he was," adds Lang, son of farm co-owner and prominent Republican Craig Lang. "This was shocking to us." Immigration officials now suspect Rivera was in the US illegally. Per the AP, a Facebook page in his name gives his hometown as Guayabillo, Mexico, a community of less than 500. The AP adds Rivera's attorney, Allan Richards, on Wednesday said he might argue his client was here legally, saying Rivera had been in the US since he was a minor and paid taxes. But Richards did say he hadn't verified Rivera's immigration status. At a vigil at the University of Iowa where Tibbetts would've started her sophomore year on Monday, her brother had one request for the hundreds gathered: make a friend. "You can always attribute that friendship … to my sister, and that would mean the world to her," he said, per the Register. (More Mollie Tibbetts stories.)

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