In an interview with the Daily Mail, former Iowa resident Haileigh Volkmer claimed she was acquaintances with both 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts and the man accused of killing her, 24-year-old Cristhian Bahena Rivera.

As Volkmer explained, she briefly went to high school with Tibbetts before moving from Iowa to Nebraska. She was a year younger than Tibbetts.


Two weeks after Tibbetts went missing — and long before Rivera was considered a suspect — Volkmer texted Rivera asking if he was “aware” that the 20-year-old had disappeared.

According to Volkmer, Rivera replied with a quick and simple, “Ya.” Volkmer attempted to continue on with the conversation:

Volkmer: So you think she’s [with] someone she knows?

Rivera: [I don’t know] her parents say they think she is so probably.

Volkmer visited Brooklyn, Iowa and her family who still lives there on August 10.

She told the Daily Mail that while she was out with some friends, she ran into Rivera and struck up another conversation about Tibbetts. Volkmer said Rivera quickly became “uncomfortable” with the conversation:

“Everything was normal except for when we brought Mollie up. He didn’t seem to want to talk about her, just changed the subject. I was panicked and was asking everyone if they knew anything. So I brought it up again and asked what he thought happened. 

All he said was ‘probably what her parents think, she took off with someone and doesn’t know what to do.’ Thinking back on it now, he did seem pretty uncomfortable talking about her, but other than that he seemed normal.”

Volkmer said that the way Rivera would talk about Tibbetts didn’t make it seem like they knew each other. He said he hoped the police would find her.

She said that though nothing led her to believe Rivera was the one who allegedly killed Tibbetts, the 24-year-old was “explosive” and “short-tempered.”

As Dearly previously reported, during his alleged confession, Rivera admitted he “blacked out” after abducting Tibbetts while she was on a run the night of July 18.

According to Volkmer, Rivera is a father to a little girl. He and the woman he shares the child with are allegedly no longer together. Both the ex-girlfriend and their daughter were present during Rivera’s first court appearance.

Since Rivera’s arrest, another teen has come forward claiming that Rivera made advances at her in the past. The teen, who is 17 years old, had her 18-year-old sister talk on her behalf.

Bailey Gibson told the Daily Mail:

“I know Cristhian from my sister. She thought he was a nice, well-spoken person. They hung out a few times but nothing really happened romantically. She told me that a little while ago he drove up to her while she was walking through Brooklyn. He told her she was really pretty and things like that. 

It was more flirty than sexual but my sister is very shy. She didn’t appreciate it. Even though she knew him a little she felt unsafe and didn’t want to talk to him. In the end she was really creeped-out by his behavior. She had to keep telling him she wasn’t interested.”

Gibson said her sister didn’t think much of her encounter with Rivera until she heard about how he allegedly trailed Tibbetts in his car and ran alongside of her the night she went missing.

Tibbetts’ loved ones released a statement following the discovery of her body:

Our hearts are broken. On behalf of Mollie’s entire family, we thank all of those from around the world who have sent their thoughts and prayers for our girl.

We know that many of you will join us as we continue to carry Mollie in our hearts forever. At this time, our family asks that we be allowed the time to process our devastating loss and share our grief in private.

Again, thank you for the outpouring of love and support that has been shared in Mollie’s name.

Rivera is currently being held without bond.

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