A body believed to be that of Mollie Tibbetts, a 20-year-old student at the University of Iowa who vanished a month ago after going for a jog, was found on Tuesday morning, investigators announced. A 24-year-old resident of rural Poweshiek County has been charged with first-degree murder in the killing.
The body was found in a field southeast of Brooklyn, Iowa. Ms. Tibbetts was last seen nearby on July 18, Rick Rahn, a special agent of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, said at a news conference.
“The identity has not been confirmed, however, we believe it to be the body of Mollie Tibbetts,” Mr. Rahn said. The authorities did not say what the specific cause of death was; an autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday.
The man charged in the killing is Cristhian Bahena Rivera, an undocumented immigrant, he said. He said that Mr. Rivera had lived in the area for four to seven years but did not say where he was from.
Investigators secured security video during a neighborhood canvas, and a vehicle seen in the video was traced back to Mr. Rivera, Mr. Rahn said.
Ms. Tibbetts was last seen on the evening of July 18 while running in her hometown, Brooklyn, a small town between Des Moines and Cedar Rapids. Her family reported her missing the following day.
At the time, she was dog-sitting for her boyfriend, Dalton Jack, and his brother, who live in Brooklyn and were out of town, Mr. Jack recently told Fox News.
“She regularly jogged around Brooklyn,” he said. “I’d say her route was pretty sporadic.”
Mr. Jack, who is not considered a suspect, was more than 100 miles away when Ms. Tibbetts disappeared, working on a construction job in Dubuque, Iowa.
In an interview with ABC News earlier this month, Mr. Jack said his last communication with Ms. Tibbetts was through Snapchat and text messages on the evening she vanished.
“It seemed like a totally normal night,” he said.
Devin Riley, who said he saw Ms. Tibbetts jog past his house at about 8 p.m. on the night she disappeared, told ABC News that she would run by three or four times a week.
When he saw her on July 18 he thought nothing of it until he heard she went missing, he said. Then he called the police.
“It’s gut-wrenching to know that I can have my daughter out here and I go inside for a minute and she’s gone,” Mr. Riley said. “You just do not expect it from a town like this.”
The case baffled officials, who said they conducted more than 500 interviews in the course of the investigation and searched through farms and cornfields for answers. Investigators appealed to the public for help, creating a special website where people could leave tips. Ms. Tibbetts’s family even canvassed the Iowa State Fair with fliers, T-shirts and buttons, hoping to generate new leads.
Rob Tibbetts, Ms. Tibbetts’s father, told The Des Moines Register that he met with Vice President Mike Pence off-camera for about 20 minutes aboard Air Force Two on Wednesday, after Mr. Pence gave a speech at the state’s capital promoting President Trump’s agenda.
Ahead of his remarks in Des Moines that day, Mr. Pence said, “I just want Mollie’s family to know: You’re on the hearts of every American, and we will continue to work and we will continue to pray for Mollie’s safe return.”
Crime Stoppers of Central Iowa had offered a $385,718 reward gathered from about 223 donors for any information leading to Ms. Tibbetts’s return, money that will now most likely go toward helping investigators catch the person or people responsible for her death.
“Once they catch their breath, this will turn into a weapon going the other direction to catch the person who did it,” Greg Willey, a spokesman for Crime Stoppers of Central Iowa, told The Associated Press.