On August 21, 2018, multiple news outlets reported that Mollie’s body was found in rural Poweshiek County and that law enforcement had blocked off an area not far from Deep River and Guernsey, Iowa, about 15 miles from Brooklyn, where she lived. You can read more about that report here. Later in the day, authorities revealed that they have accused a 24-year-old man named Cristhian Rivera of murdering Mollie Tibbetts.
Cristhian Rivera, who is not affiliated with Cheney, was in the country illegally, according to authorities, and working on a dairy farm owned by a Republican official named Craig Lang. Authorities said in a news conference that Rivera allegedly confessed to chasing down Tibbetts as she jogged before abducting and murdering her.
Cheney lives in walking distance of pig farms searched by authorities in the disappearance of Tibbetts, the University of Iowa student who vanished in Brooklyn, Iowa, seemingly without a trace. Interest in nearby hog farms intensified after reports that a person found a red shirt that could possibly belong to Mollie. The FBI is also involved in the case. On August 5, 2018, the body of a young woman was found in Lee County, Iowa, but authorities said they have no reason to believe it’s Mollie.
Cheney told Fox News that he took a polygraph test in which authorities asked if he had anything to do with Mollie’s disappearance (he says he did not). He told the network he doesn’t know the results.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Wayne Cheney Says the Police Questioning of Him Was a Waste of Time
Cheney himself told Iowa news media that authorities had questioned him in the Mollie Tibbetts disappearance but he declared it was all a waste of time. You can see his interview with WHO-TV above.
Cheney told WHO-TV that he was questioned for two hours and didn’t remember what he was asked.
“I just thought it was a waste of time but oh well,” he told the television station, adding, “I don’t know who those two were but they took me down to the fire station Tuesday and questioned me for two hours. I don`t remember what they asked me.”
According to Crime Online, Cheney denied knowing Mollie or having anything to do with her disappearance.
Fox News initially reported that Cheney “claimed that law enforcement asked him on Thursday to take a polygraph test but he refused to do so.” The network later reported that Cheney said he had taken the test. He was questioned by authorities for the third time on August 5, 2018, Fox reported.
2. Wayne Cheney Has Previous Stalking & Harassment Cases
Authorities have not called Wayne Cheney a suspect. However, his past criminal history may have helped draw their attention to him.
According to WHO-TV’s exclusive by reporter Justin Surrency, Cheney pleaded guilty in two previous stalking cases. The cases were from 2009 and 2014 and span two counties, Poweshiek and Marion, the TV station reported.
One of those cases resulted in a protective order being filed against Cheney, Crime Online reported.
Cheney lives in Deep River, Iowa. The Daily Mail asked Cheney about his previous arrests and he told the British news site, “I was arrested in 2011 for breaching a restraining order. It was an ex girlfriend. That was the only time.” He lives about 15 miles from Brooklyn, Iowa.
A review by Heavy of Iowa court records shows the following cases for Wayne Allan Cheney, not counting minor traffic cases:
- Contempt violation of no contact or protective order. Guilty. 2011. Jasper County. He paid a fine.
- Stalking, violation of protection order. Guilty. 2014. 2 years probation. Marion County.
- Another contempt violation of no contact or protective order, but this case in 2014 was dismissed. Marion County.
- Harassment third degree. This 2015 case was dismissed. Iowa County.
- Improper use of media, curb or acc facility. 2015. Iowa County. Guilty. Fine.
- Burglary third degree, dismissed, 2009. Poweshiek County.
- Harassment third degree, dismissed. 2009. Poweshiek County.
- Interference with official acts, 2009. Guilty. Poweshiek County.
- Contempt violation of no contact or protection order. 2010. Dismissed. Poweshiek County.
- Stalking, violation of protection order was charged but he was adjudicated of harassment first degree 2009. Guilty. Poweshiek County.
- Harassment by communication. 1996. Poweshiek County.
- Criminal trespass. 1996. Guilty. Poweshiek County.
- Harassment by personal contact. This case was dismissed. 1996. Poweshiek County.
- Contempt violation of no contact or protective order. 2010. Guilty. Poweshiek County.
- Harassment second degree. 2009. Guilty. Poweshiek County.
According to the Daily Mail, Cheney is far from the only person police have interviewed; they’ve also spoken to “a suspect in an assault on a female jogger on Sunday while another man was questioned in Pella, an hour from Brooklyn, after he was spotted taking covert photos of girls,” the site says, but police have not identified or revealed any suspect.
3. A Person Found a Red Shirt That May Be Similar to One Mollie Owned, Reports Say
What might be a major — and ominous — break in the case was revealed on August 3, 2018.
A person mowing the lawn near the Lincoln Wildfire Reserve found a red shirt, Fox News reported. Authorities have not confirmed this account. Although it’s not clear whether the shirt belonged to Tibbetts, according to Fox News, employees at the daycare center where she worked wear red shirts.
Previous reports indicated Mollie’s red work shirt might have been missing, leading some to theorize she was taken in the morning, not at night. However, Kevin Winkler of the Iowa Department of Public Safety, said at a press conference that he was unable to confirm any items of Mollie’s had been found. Her mother told the Daily Mail that she found two of Mollie’s red work shirts in her house but is not sure if there ever was a third.
The shirt was found near a pig farm authorities had already searched, and they reignited the search in the area around the farm after the shirt’s discovery, Fox reported.
There is a reward of more than $200,000 for information leading to Mollie’s whereabouts.
4. Authorities Allegedly Searched Wayne Cheney’s Home & Cell Phone
According to Crime Online, Cheney is a pig farmer and his cell phone, garage and home were searched. However, WHO-TV reports that Cheney lives near hog farms without giving his occupation. Cheney, 56, told the Daily Mail he sold the pig farm facility to Prestage Farms five or six years ago.
Fox News, without naming him, said that FBI investigators had spoken to a local pig farmer and asked to search his residence without a warrant. “They were there for nearly two hours, taking photos of the interior of the home and also searching his garage. He said investigators then asked to interview him off the property and kept his cell phone overnight to check his records,” Fox News reported.
Mollie’s mother, father, and boyfriend have joined police and others in trying to find the missing student.
Mollie was last seen jogging near her house but she sent her boyfriend a Snapchat later that night, so it’s possible she disappeared the next morning before work. Her boyfriend was out of town at work and Mollie was home alone dog sitting when she disappeared.
Mollie’s passport, wallet, debit card and driver’s license were left behind, the Daily Mail reports.
You can read more about the disappearance of Mollie Tibbetts here.
5. A Previous Sighting in Missouri Was Ruled Out & Authorities Eventually Charged Cristhian Rivera in the Murder Case
Authorities say they were led to Cristhian Rivera after allegedly seeing his vehicle near Mollie on surveillance video. They then approached him, and they say he provided a statement that implicated him in her death. Mollie was located deceased in a cornfield in rural Poweshiek County, Iowa. Authorities say Rivera led them there.
KCRG-TV reports that there was a large police search occurring for Mollie between Guernsey and Deep River in Poweshiek County on August 3, 2018. That’s a location in Iowa.
Authorities had said previously that they were scouring Mollie’s digital devices and social media presence – including her ever-present fitbit – for clues.
Those hoping to find Mollie alive had their hopes raised when it was reported that a person claimed to have seen a woman resembling Tibbetts in a Kearney Missouri truck stop.
However, it was later revealed that authorities had ruled that sighting out and say the woman in the truck stop was not Mollie Tibbetts.