MOLLIE Tibbetts was seen in bombshell surveillance footage jogging as she’s followed by a sinister black Chevrolet Malibu moments before she was abducted.
On day two of the trial, the focus was on the footage given to police by a neighbor in which the black car could be seen following around 20 seconds behind the Iowa jogger on July 18, 2018.
Tibbetts boyfriend Dalton Jack faced off with murder suspect Cristhian Bahena Rivera during the trial on Wednesday, declaring: “I didn’t want to be in the same room as your defendant there,” in reference to Rivera.
Rivera’s lawyer Chad Frese also alleged that Dalton cheated on her before her death.
Prosecutor asked Jack at the trial why he neglected to tell law enforcement that he “had an affair” with another woman and asked, “Mollie was upset that you cheated on her, correct?”
Previously, Jack told the defense lawyer that he didn’t think those details were relevant to the case, adding that Tibbetts knew about his infidelity and they worked through it.
Opening statements began Wednesday in the trial of Rivera, who allegedly murdered Tibbetts, 20, and dumped her body in a field.
Rivera, a Mexican national who came illegally to the US as a teenager, is charged with first-degree murder for the 2018 slaying of the 20-year-old University of Iowa student.
The 26-year-old is participating in the trial through a Spanish-speaking interpreter.
Rivera’s arrest inflamed anger over illegal immigration, with then- President Donald Trump calling Rivera a killer who exploited lax immigration laws and Iowa’s governor calling him a predator.
The case deepened anxieties about random violence against women, since Tibbetts was attacked while out for exercise in her small town of Brooklyn, Iowa.
She never made it back to the house where she was dog sitting for her boyfriend and his brother.
The 20-year-old was studying to become a child psychologist.
MIRANDA RIGHTS ISSUE
The next prosecution witness is former Iowa City police officer Pamela Romero, who was a translater for Rivera.
The ex-cop, who was born in Mexico and raised in the US, left one crucial part out of the Miranda rights when she read them out to Rivera during the August interview.
She accidentally didn’t him that his statements could be used against him in court, which led to evidence being suppressed, reports say.
The day after he was grilled by cops, police made the grim discovery of Tibbetts’ remains in a remote cornfield and partially obscured by stalks.
Yesterday, the prosecutor Klaver alleged that Rivera led police to the rural area of Brooklyn and allegedly made a confession.
RECAP: THE ALLEGED CONFESSION
When investigators interviewed Bahena Rivera on August 20, 2018, for several hours at the Poweshiek County Sheriff’s Office, he initially denied knowing anything about her disappearance.
Earlier, he had told Fischels that he had “never” seen her, bar the missing flyers and TV segments on her disappearance.
But when cops showed him the footage of his black Chevrolet Malibu – with its distinctive chrome rims, handles, and mirrors – driving past her repeatedly, he allegedly changed his story.
The Poweshiek County sheriff’s deputy who spotted it – Deputy Kivi – took the stand this morning and confirmed that he saw, stopped, and identified Rivera driving the car on the highway.
When Rivera was shown a still of his distinctive car which had Mollie Tibbetts’ blood in it, he allegedly admitted that he did see her and “found her attractive, that she was ‘hot,’ in his words,” Klaver said yesterday.
BROUGHT IN FOR QUESTIONING
Rivera was brought into the sheriff’s office by Green, who found him in the milking parlor of Yarrabee Farms.
They didn’t speak during the 20-minute journey, the agent said.
DCI special agent Scott Green is up next.
Fischels, who is fluent in Spanish, interviewed Rivera on August 20, 2018, at Yarrabee Farms where he worked.
The DHS agent said he appeared to be calm during their chat and he wasn’t driving the Chevy Malibu that day.
Fischels said he allowed cops to search his car and gave them permission to search his home, and agreed to go to the sheriff’s office.
When asked what he’d said about missing Mollie Tibbetts that day, Fischels recalled he said: ” No, I have never seen her,” “no not at any time,” and “just on the television.”
Credit: Court TV
DHS AGENT TAKES THE STAND
Agent Michael Fischels with the Dept. of Homeland Security was next up to be quizzed in the Iowa trial.
MOLLIE TIBBETTS’ MOM TOOK IN MEXICAN CHILD
After Laura Calderwood’s daughter was found dead in a cornfield in 2018, racial tensions flared when it emerged that police suspected Cristhian Bahena Rivera, a Mexican National who was illegally in the US.
However, Calderwood took in her son’s friend, 17-year-old Ulises Felix, when his parents – who also worked at Yarrbee Farms, Rivera’s workplace – left Brooklyn, Iowa, due to the surging tensions.
Felix wanted to finish school in his hometown but things became extremely strained after Donald Trump railed against Tibbetts’ murder. Rivera had trained him at the farm.
She reportedly told the Post she took in Ulises after debating what Mollie would have done.
RECAP: WHAT HAPPENED TO MOLLIE TIBBETTS
Tibbetts, 20, was a college student at the University of Iowa, majoring in psychology.
She worked at a children’s day camp at Grinnell Regional Medical Center and was preparing for her sophomore year in college when she disappeared.
Tibbetts lived in Brooklyn, Iowa, and was caring for her boyfriend’s dogs prior to her disappearance.
Tibbetts was reported missing on July 19, 2018.
However, she never made it back home after going on her routine jog.
She was last seen near America’s Highway of Death moments after sending her boyfriend a Snapchat selfie.
Tibbetts was allegedly stabbed to death by Cristhian Bahena Rivera, who confessed to killing her in a panic after she threatened to call the police, detectives claim.
According to authorities, Rivera concealed her body in a cornfield and directed them to where she was hiding, nearly five weeks after her disappearance.
WHO IS DALTON JACK?
As the second day of the trial continues, here’s a recap of one of the key witnesses in the case: her boyfriend Dalton Jack.
The couple met in high school in Brooklyn, Iowa, in October 2015.
Their dates involved “a lot of dinner and movies,” and many days they would just sit at home and enjoy each other’s company.
Even after she decided to attend the University of Iowa in nearby Iowa City and he stayed back in Brooklyn to live with his brother and work construction, they saw each other every weekend and even some weekdays.
According to Jack, almost every day Tibbetts would go on an evening run in town.
At the time of her disappearance, Jack maintained hope that she would one day return safely.
“You just have to meet her. She is the sweetest, kindest person I ever met in my life,” he told the outlet.
The court is taking a break until 1.15 pm local time – here’s what we know so far:
- Brooklyn local Logan Collins has four cameras on his property; he handed the footage over to police when Tibbetts vanished
- An agent spots a jogger for a fraction of a second on one of the videos Collins provided at around 7.45 pm on July 18, 2018.
- Agent Riessen said it was significant to see a black Chevy Malibu following that same route on the video about 20 seconds later with distinct chrome features.
- It was seen approximately “20 to 30 seconds later up East Des Moines Street traveling west,” he said.
- Out of some 14 vehicles seen on the camera, six were the Malibu Chevy, Riessen said.
- Earlier, Deputy Kivi confirmed the vehicle was deemed of interest to Iowa police on August 15, 2018 – two months after Tibbetts’ vanished during her run.
- He saw the car on Highway 63 and “caught the license plate” before following the truck.
- He later learned that it was registered to a “female from Tama.”
TIME OF ABDUCTION
Defense lawyer Chad Frese says Mollie Tibbetts is believed to have been abducted at around 8:20 pm on July 18, 2018.
Agent Riessen was then cross-examined by Rivera’s defense team, who asked him about other cars seen in the videoes.
Riessen was asked if you “see the black Malibu pass through the area of the surveillance system after 8:07?”
“No sir,” he replied, noting there were other vehicles seen by the cameras and police there reviewed these too.
He said it was significant because it passed through numerous times after seeing the runner pass through.”
He said out of 14 vehicles seen on the camera, six were the Malibu Chevy.
Tibbetts was spotted on Boundary Street and East Des Moines, the State noted, which Riessen confirmed on the stand.
A graphic map of the sightings were reviewed in court yesterday.
Riessen confirmed the car was seen a second time on another one of Collins’ cameras pointing at a different angle.
The chrome side mirror was also visible, even at a distance in the video.
Rivera’s car has chrome mirrors and handles, lawyers pointed out yesterday when his cousin took the stand.
After a brief break, Riessen said cops identified different locations where this car was at around that time.
He said the Malibu passed 20 seconds after the jogger was seen down by the gray house towards the gray and white house.
The State then showed a black car passing by – with chrome rims visible.
Credit: Court TV
Credit: Court TV
Credit: Court TV
After the jogger went past at 7.45pm local time, Riessen said it was significant to see a black Chevy Malibu following that same route.
“We just wanted to know who was driving that vehicle…[or] if they saw Mollie jogging,” he said, citing the distinctive features being chrome side mirrors, handles, and rims.
The State then played an enhanced video showing what appears to be a jogger running through a street boundary in the background of Collins’ video for a fraction of a second.
“Essentially what we decided to do was start logging everything we saw on the video,” Riessen said.
LAST SEEN ALIVE
Today, Riessen said “the last person to have seen [Tibbetts] based on our timeline was Kristina Steward at approximately 7:45 pm” on July 18, 2018.
On Wednesday, Steward pointed out the location where she had seen Tibbetts jogging on 385th Avenue.
She was the last person to see Tibbetts alive before she was brutally murdered and her remains dumped in a corn field.
In 2018, police described how footage helped to get a strong lead on the case.
Criminal Investigation Special Agent Rick Rahn told NBC’s Today show on August 22, 2018 “it did in fact lead us to where he had placed Mollie.”
“We were thankful for that because that allowed us to have some closure for the family,” Rahn added.
Riessen gathered the videoes from Collins’ home and watched him downloading the footage for police.
“We just knew that we needed the footage,” Riessen noted, adding they had no issue getting it.
The State has called Iowa DCI Special Agent Derek Riessen, who is on the stand.
He was involved in the search from July 26, 2018, for interviewing and canvassing the area but Agent Trent Villeta was the case agent.
He said they began to collect surveillance footage to enable investigators to make a “timeline” for Tibbetts – but even that took time in a small town, despite people being cooperative.
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