WASHINGTONSenator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today sought information pertaining to Cristhian Bahena Rivera, the Mexican national illegally residing in the U.S. alleged to have murdered 20 year-old University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts.

In a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, Grassley seeks all information the Department of Homeland Security possesses about the suspect, specifically the Homeland Security Investigations Executive summary and details on his immigration and criminal history. He also requests that department officials brief committee staff by Friday.

Yesterday, following the arrest and announcement of charges against Rivera, Iowa Senators Grassley and Ernst released a statement.

Full text of Grassley’s letter to Secretary Nielsen follows.


August 22, 2018



The Honorable Kirstjen Nielsen                                                  


U.S. Department of Homeland Security                                      

Washington, D.C. 20528                                                              


Dear Secretary Nielsen:

Yesterday, officials charged a 24-year-old undocumented immigrant from Mexico with the murder of missing Iowan, Mollie Tibbetts.[1] Tibbetts, a 20-year-old rising sophomore at the University of Iowa had been missing from the rural and close knit farming town of Brooklyn, Iowa for more than a month after going on a jog and never returning.[2] According to reports, Christian Bahena-Rivera, a Mexican national who allegedly entered the United States illegally, followed Tibbetts while she was running and abducted her.[3] Tibbetts then unsuccessfully attempted to call the police.[4] Private security cameras recorded Tibbetts’ and then the suspect’s vehicle, which led to the identification of Christian Rivera.[5] Rivera has apparently resided in the Brooklyn area for the last four to seven years, yet little information is known about the man’s immigration and criminal history, or employment details.[6] Reports claim Rivera led officials to the body, which was found in a cornfield just outside of town.[7]

It is cruciaL we understand the circumstances surrounding the tragic death of this young Iowan so that we can address any vulnerabilities in our border security apparatus, existing laws, enforcement practices, and resource allocation. We must prevent murders such as Tibbetts’ from ever occurring again. At a minimum, Congress must increase law enforcement personnel at the border, aggressively modernize relevant technology and infrastructure, and eliminate the potential for fraud and abuse in our E-verify system. Therefore, please provide any information on the suspect, including the Homeland Security Investigations Executive Summary on Rivera, and provide a briefing to Committee staff as soon as possible but no later than August 24, 2018.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. If you have any questions, please contact Aakash Singh or Katherine Nikas of my Committee staff at (202) 224-5225.




Charles E. Grassley


Senate Committee on the Judiciary




The Honorable Dianne Feinstein

Ranking Member

Senate Committee on the Judiciary


[1] Emily Shapiro, Mollie Tibbetts case: Body Found Believed to be Missing Iowa Jogger; Murder Charge Filed, ABC News (Aug. 21, 2018), available at https://abcnews.go.com/US/mollie-tibbetts-case-body-found-search-missing-iowa/story?id=57306476

[2] Id.

[3] Linh Ta, Murder Charge Filed in Mollie Tibbetts Case, Des Moines Register (Aug 21, 2018), available at https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/2018/08/21/mollie-tibbetts-missing-iowa-student-body-found-brooklyn-iowa-city-poweshiek-county-press-conference/1051131002/

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

[7] Id.