Disturbing moment before uni student killed while jogging

Disturbing new details have emerged about the moments leading up to the murder of university student Mollie Tibbetts.

The 20-year-old disappeared while out for a run in Brooklyn, in the US state of Iowa, on July 18, 2018.

Her body was recovered a month later in a cornfield.

Cristhian Bahena Rivera was charged with first-degree murder and the first day of the trial heard surveillance video would link Rivera to the crime as blood found in his car matched Tibbetts' DNA.

Prosecutor Bart Klaver said a homeowner's surveillance video would show Bahena Rivera's black Chevy Maliby appearing to circle Tibbetts as she ran.

Mollie Tibbetts poses for a picture in September 2016 during Homecoming festivities at BGM High School in her hometown of Brooklyn, Iowa. Cristhian Bahena Rivera, the man charged with killing Tibbetts while she was out for a run in July 2018, will stand trial for first-degree murder on Monday, May 17 in Davenport, Iowa. (Kim Calderwood via AP)
Mollie Tibbetts' body was found in a cornfield a month after she went missing. Source: AP

Bahena Rivera, now 26, told police that he drove past the 20-year-old and turned around to get a second look because he thought she was "hot", Klaver said.

The prosecutor added the accused admitted to investigators that he got out of his car and ran to catch up with Tibbetts, and became angry and fought with her after she threatened to call the police.

Mr Klaver said the next thing he remembered was driving his Malibu, with her bloody body in the trunk, which he then carried over his shoulder and placed beneath stalks in a cornfield.

According to the prosecutor, blood found in the trunk matched Tibbetts' DNA and an autopsy found that she had been stabbed from seven to 12 times in the chest, ribs, neck and skull, and that she died from sharp force injuries.

If convicted, Bahena Rivera faces life in prison without parole.

Boyfriend 'had nothing to do with death'

The boyfriend of the University of Iowa student testified on Wednesday that he had nothing to do with Tibbetts' death, saying he had been out of town for work and was heartbroken by her slaying.

Dalton Jack, the longtime boyfriend of Tibbetts, was a key witness on the first day of the first-degree murder trial of Bahena rivera.

During cross-examination, defence lawyers for Bahena Rivera worked to try to cast suspicion on Jack, painting him as a man with a temper who had a tumultuous relationship with Tibbetts and had cheated on her with at least one other woman.

Jack, 23 and now an Army sergeant stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, testified that he met Tibbetts at high school and had been dating her for three years. He described her as “happy, bubbly, goofy,” saying she liked to have fun and that she went running most days.

Cristhian Bahena Rivera listens in the courtroom at the Scott County Courthouse in Davenport, Iowa, on Wednesday, May 19, 2021. Rivera is charged with first-degree in the death of Mollie Tibbetts. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette via AP, Pool)
Cristhian Bahena Rivera is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Mollie Tibbetts. Source: AP

On the day she disappeared, Tibbetts was staying at the Brooklyn home where Jack and his older brother Blake Jack lived. She had been watching Blake Jack’s dogs while the brothers were out of town that week for work.

The Jack brothers testified that they became concerned after learning on July 19 that Tibbetts had not shown up for work at a daycare, and she was not answering her phone. Both returned to Brooklyn to search for her before calling police.

Dalton Jack testified that he had been part of a crew building a bridge in Dubuque, about 225 kilometres from Brooklyn.

He worked 12 hours on July 18 then drank beer and played yard games with the crew before going to sleep at a hotel, adding that he never returned to Brooklyn that night.

Boyfriend admits cheating on Mollie Tibbetts

On cross-examination, Dalton Jack acknowledged he used to have a “short fuse” and would get into fights.

He said that he had “screwed up” and cheated on Tibbetts once, and that she discovered the relationship after looking through his phone.

Jack said the two worked through the problem and never broke up but acknowledged Tibbetts told him three days before she disappeared that she remained sad and upset about his infidelity.

On the day before she went missing, she had discussed one of his previous relationships with a second woman, Jack admitted.

With friends and police searching for Tibbetts, a woman with whom Jack has previously had a relationship sent him a text message asking, “Dalton, is Mollie alive?” defence lawyer Chad Frese said, calling the question “odd".

Mollie Tibbetts disappeared while jogging in July 2018. Source: Facebook
Mollie Tibbetts disappeared while jogging in July 2018. Source: Facebook

Jack admitted he initially told police that he was watching a movie in his hotel room on the night she disappeared and that he withheld information about his infidelity, calling it irrelevant.

He also acknowledged that he told police his last communication with Tibbetts was a Snapchat he received at 10.30 pm that night, but phone records show it was after 1am.

He also said he did not agree to voluntarily testify and required a subpoena because he didn’t want to be in “the same room” as Bahena Rivera.

“I am obviously not his biggest fan,” he said.

“I wholeheartedly believe he’s guilty.”

Jack said he joined the Army three months after Tibbetts’ body was found because he was heartbroken and “wanted to pretty much leave” their hometown.

The trial at the Scott County Courthouse in Davenport is being live streamed by Court TV and eis xpected to last through next week.

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