Mexican man charged in Iowa slaying worked under fake name
BROOKLYN, Iowa (AP) — A Mexican man charged with killing an Iowa college student worked on a dairy farm for years under a false name just a few miles from where the young woman was allegedly abducted while running last month, his employer said today.
Cristhian Bahena Rivera was a good employee who showed up on time to take care of the cows and got along well with his co-workers, said Dane Lang, manager of Yarrabee Farms in Brooklyn, Iowa.
The 24-year-old kept coming to work after Mollie Tibbetts disappeared July 18, and "nobody saw a difference" in his demeanor, Lang said. His colleagues were stunned Tuesday to learn he was not only the suspect in Tibbetts' death, but that he had a different real name than what he went by on the farm, he said.
"Our employee is not who he said he was," Lang said at a news conference at the farm. "This was shocking to us."
When Rivera was hired in 2014, he presented an out-of-state government-issued photo identification and a matching Social Security card, he said. That information was run through the Social Security Administration's employment-verification system and checked out, he said.
Rivera's defense attorney, Allan Richards, acknowledged today his client received his paycheck under a different name and that he was uncertain of his immigration status. He said he was prepared to argue his client was in the country legally, noting that he came to the U.S. as a minor and had worked and paid taxes for years.
"He showed up every day, and he did his job. He was patted on his back. They turned a blind eye to the reality of documentation," Richards said.
Rivera made his initial court appearance on a charge of first-degree murder in the death of Tibbetts, a 20-year-old University of Iowa student.