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Chevy Malibu seen in surveillance video not registered to suspect Rivera

Aug 23, 2018

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The Chevy Malibu that investigators linked to Cristhian Rivera, the illegal immigrant suspected of killing Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts, was not registered in Rivera's name, a law enforcement source revealed to Fox News on Wednesday.

Police said Tuesday that the Malibu, which was caught on surveillence footage in Brooklyn, Iowa, was driving back and forth in the area where Tibbetts, a 20-year-old University of Iowa student, was running in the "late afternoon hours of July 18," the day she went missing.

"We were able to, first of all, see what we believed to have been Mollie running on one of the streets," Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation special agent Rick Rahn told Fox News. "From that, we started to look into all the vehicles that were also captured on video and eventually identified the vehicle that was driven by Mr. Rivera."

The surveillance footage in which the Malibu was seen was not able to capture the vehicle's license plates, but there were "unusual markings" on the car which helped lead investigators track it down, Rahn told said.

The special agent said there were "some distinct features to the vehicle that allowed us to basically search the area for it and just happened that we were able to locate the vehicle, and subsequently identify Mr. Rivera driving the vehicle."

The footage was provided by a resident. It clearly showed Tibbetts running, and also had a clear shot of the Malibu driving back and forth, Rahn told Fox News. The video was "critical" and allowed authorities to zero in on the 24-year-old Rivera, Rahn added.

Rivera was charged with first-degree murder on Tuesday in Tibbetts' death, and was being held Wednesday on a $5 million cash-only bond. During his first court appearance Wednesday afternoon, Rivera looked stoic and refused to speak when given the chance. Rahn said authorities believe this was a "premeditated" attack.

A spokesperson with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said in a statement that, "A search of records by USCIS revealed Rivera did not make any DACA requests nor were any grants given. We have found no record in our systems indicating he has any immigration status."

Despite what federal officials have stated about Rivera's status in the U.S., his lawyer said the suspect worked legally in the country.

Attorney Allen Richards alleged that the government was saying falsely that Rivera was not in Iowa legally, in a court document through which he asked for a gag order on the case, the Des Moines Register reported.