Mobile technology is a fantastic instrument, especially for law enforcement in their attempts to locate your whereabouts and track down criminals.

A smartphone keeps records of many things the user does on it; when used as an investigative tool, it can provide valuable information to determine an area where someone is last seen alive or pinpoint the exact spot of the owner thanks to network signal ping.

In one case, a young woman who put her phone in a “Do Not Disturb” mode went missing without a trace.

Investigators had to rely on old-school detective work until another form of technology, a CCTV camera, offered a clue about the incident. 

Mollie Tibbetts, the missing 20-year-old student from Brooklyn, Iowa, was found dead in a cornfield. Investigators discovered her last known whereabouts from the surveillance footage.

They managed to identify a male farm worker named Cristhian Bahena Rivera, also seen on the video as the suspect.

He was later arrested, charged with first-degree murder, and convicted for his crime. Rivera is serving his life sentence at Iowa’s maximum security facility prison.

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10 /10 Time For Herself

On July 18, 2018, Mollie Tibbetts did what she had always done every evening before: going for a jog. She laced up her shoes, put on a sports bra, and headed out into the quiet roads of Brooklyn.

Those closest to her knew that Mollie thought of jogging as a time for herself.

She never wanted any distractions during the activity, so she always kept her phone silent. The phone would not ring in case someone called or sent messages. That was how Mollie could unwind.

9 /10 Her Last Run

She never knew it would be her last jog ever. After leaving her boyfriend’s home, she began her run on a familiar route. Then she vanished without a trace.

The possibility of her getting lost somewhere was improbable. Mollie’s last communication was with her boyfriend, Dalton Jack, on Snapchat.

His “good morning” text the next day went unanswered. Someone from the day-care center where she worked also called to ask why she had not shown up, but that too went to voice mail.






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8 /10 Immediate Search

Over the week, local volunteers joined the quick search. They scoured the surrounding area all across the small town.

The search party combed through empty buildings, ditches, cornfields, and other typically quiet spots to no avail.

In vain, some volunteers canvassed the high-traffic locations, including gas stations, truck stops, rest areas, and even restaurants.

There was no trace of Mollie Tibbetts. When local law enforcement did not produce a result, the state investigators and the FBI took over the search effort.

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7 /10 Spread The Words

The boyfriend couldn’t remember the details of her last message. She sent a photo of her inside a house, but Jack ignored the caption.

Mollie was born in San Francisco and moved to Brooklyn in second grade with her mother. At the time of her disappearance, she studied psychology – like her mother did – at the University of Iowa.

As the search continued, those closest to Mollie urged everyone to keep spreading words about her in the hope of finding some clues from the information.

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6 /10 Returning Home

Her family told investigators there was evidence to indicate that Mollie had gone home on the night of July 18.

They thought Mollie probably had done her homework on a computer late at night.

It remains unclear whether or not the event took place. The first press conference about the investigation was held in late July at the Poweshiek County Sheriff’s Office.

Investigators said they were looking into more than 200 leads, but they had not identified any suspect and ruled out any possibility.

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5 /10 Security Footage

Now that phone tracking was not an option; the police had to resort to conventional detective work. They interviewed hundreds of people in search of any solid clue.

As days became weeks, the reward for information leading to Mollie’s whereabouts increased to almost $400,000. A real breakthrough in the case came from a neighbor’s CCTV footage.

The neighbor handed over the surveillance video to the police in early August. They had to watch the video hours before they could spot Mollie on the screen.

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4 /10 Black Chevy Malibu

In the footage, Mollie was seen jogging east of Brooklyn. Around the vicinity, a black Chevy Malibu was driving back and forth before coming closer to her position. The car seemed to be following Mollie.

The police linked the vehicle to a Yarrabee Farms worker named Cristhian Bahena Rivera.

When officers came to detain him on August 20, Rivera did not resist. Rivera had been working on the farm for around four years.

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3 /10 Confession

The questioning ran without a hitch. Rivera admitted to pursuing Mollie in the car. Later on, he stopped and began running towards her.

At one point during the encounter, she grabbed her phone and asked Rivera to leave her alone. Otherwise, she would call the police.

As she started to run away, he chased her down. In the following moments, he panicked and attacked her.

Rivera said he didn’t remember all the details but knew he had put a woman in the trunk. There was blood on her head.

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2 /10 Mollie Was Found

The next day, Rivera led the authorities to the site where he had dumped Mollie’s body. It was in a cornfield just outside the town.

He took out Mollie from the trunk and carried her on his shoulder for about 20 meters into the field. He put her down on the ground and then covered the body with leaves.

Rivera even showed the investigators the route he had taken that day using his phone.

An autopsy report revealed Mollie had died of sharp force trauma. The blood on Rivera’s car had been determined as Mollie’s too.

1 /10 Life Imprisonment

On August 22, Rivera was charged with murder in the first degree. Perhaps from consultation with his legal counsel, he pleaded not guilty in September despite the DNA evidence and confession during questioning.

The trial began in May 2021 after multiple delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other proceedings. He was eventually found guilty as charged.

On August 24, Cristhian Bahena Rivera received a life sentence without the possibility of parole. He is now serving his time at the Iowa State Penitentiary, a maximum security prison.

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