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Suspect in murder of Mollie Tibbetts appears in court

MONTEZUMA, Iowa– The man charged in the kidnapping and killing of an Iowa college student made his initial court appearance Wednesday afternoon.

Cristhian Bahena Rivera, who is in the United States illegally, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Mollie Tibbetts, who disappeared July 18 from Brooklyn, Iowa. He’s appeared at the Poweshiek County Courthouse in Montezuma around 2 p.m.

A criminal complaint alleges Rivera followed Tibbetts while she was out for a run, abducted and killed her, and dumped her body in a cornfield. Investigators say Rivera led them to a body believed to be Tibbetts early Tuesday.

An autopsy is scheduled Wednesday by the state medical examiner to determine the cause of death.

Court records don’t list an attorney for Rivera, who is jailed on a $1 million cash-only bond.