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Mollie Tibbetts Murder Suspect Pleads Not Guilty

Police say Cristhian Rivera led them to Mollie Tibbetts' remains in a cornfield, more than a month after she vanished while running.

By Gina Tron
Mollie Tibbetts Murder Suspect Arrested

The farmhand charged in the abduction and stabbing death of 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts in Iowa has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.

Cristhian Bahena Rivera entered his plea Wednesday at the Poweshiek County Courthouse in Montezuma, Iowa.

Rivera is charged in the killing of Tibbetts, a University of Iowa student who disappeared while out for a run July 18 in Brooklyn, Iowa.

Investigators recovered her body a month later in a cornfield. They say that Rivera led them to her body.

Rivera approached Tibbetts as she was running on July 18, and she threatened to call the cops, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by Oxygen.com.

The exchange enraged Rivera, according to the documents, and he claims he blacked out before coming to at an intersection with Tibbetts' body in the trunk of his car.

Rivera said he does remember seeing Tibbetts’ headphones in his lap and removing her bloodied body from his trunk.

“The defendant further described during the interview that he dragged Tibbetts on foot from his vehicle to a secluded location in a cornfield,” the affidavit says.

The findings of a preliminary autopsy revealed she died from “homicide resulting from multiple sharp force injuries, according to the Iowa Department of Public Safety.

Cristhian Rivera and Mollie Tibbets

Rivera is a Mexican national who has been accused of being in the country illegally. The 24-year-old worked at a dairy farm a few miles from where Tibbetts disappeared. His arrest led to a national uproar and controversy surrounding his immigration status.

He waived his right to be tried within 90 days. His trial is set for April 16.

Tibbetts was studying psychology at the University of Iowa. She had plans to get a doctorate.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

[Photos: Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation]