September 06, 2018 12:01 PM
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Federal, state and local agents on Thursday were at the Iowa dairy farm that employed and housed the man charged with killing Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts.
Agents from the Poweshiek County sheriff's office, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and federal agencies were seen at Yarrabee Farms in Brooklyn, Iowa. They appeared to be looking around the property and talking to workers.
It wasn't immediately clear whether the agents were investigating the cattle farm's employment practices, the slaying of the University of Iowa student, or both.
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The county's chief deputy declined comment at the scene, and state and federal agencies had no immediate response to inquiries. Lori Chesser, an immigration lawyer advising the farm, had no immediate comment on the investigative activity but said: "We're cooperating with law enforcement all the time."
The activity comes one day after The Associated Press reported that the suspect in Tibbetts' death, Cristhian Bahena Rivera, worked at the farm using the name John Budd.
Rivera was arrested and charged with murder last month in the stabbing death of Tibbetts, 20, who vanished while out for a run in Brooklyn on July 18. Investigators say Rivera was in the U.S. illegally and is subject to deportation proceedings.
The farm has about 800 cows and is owned by a prominent local family with Republican Party ties. Rivera, 24, worked there for roughly four years and lived in one of its trailers for free. The farm has said that it employs about 10 other workers, and about half of them live in provided housing.
Farm managers have said Rivera presented an out-of-state identification and a Social Security number when he was hired in 2014, and that they were unaware of his true identity until his Aug. 21 arrest.
Rivera is charged with first-degree murder, which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison, and is being jailed on a $5 million cash-only bond while awaiting trial.
Investigators say they zeroed in on Rivera after obtaining surveillance footage showing a Chevy Malibu circling near Tibbetts on July 18. They later connected Rivera to the car, and say he confessed during questioning to approaching Tibbetts, panicking when she threatened to call police and blacking out. Rivera allegedly said he came to as he was driving Tibbetts' body in the trunk of his car to a cornfield where he buried it under stalks.
A medical examiner determined Tibbetts died from sharp force injuries.
The Associated Press
Updated: September 06, 2018 12:01 PM
Created: September 06, 2018 11:59 AM
(Copyright 2018 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)