BROOKLYN, Iowa — The owner of the Iowa diary farm that employed the suspect in Mollie Tibbetts' murder said Cristhian Rivera had legal documents when they hired him four years ago and that Yarrabee Farms used the Social Security Administration to verify the documents, not the E-Verify system as they first said in a statement Tuesday night.
In a press conference Wednesday afternoon, farm manager and co-owner Dane Lang said Rivera had an out-of-state government-issued photo identification and a matching Social Security card when they hired him, but that they knew Rivera by a different name. Lang would not reveal that name.
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The government said Rivera, 24, was in the country illegally for possibly as long as the past seven years, but the Mexican national's lawyer, Allen M. Richards, said he was in the United States legally, according to news reports.
"We continue to cooperate with the investigation and we have provided information about our former employee, including hiring records to the authorities. There will be plenty of time to discuss immigration. However, now is not the time," farm owner Craig Lang said at the press conference, according to BuzzFeedNews.
Dane Lang, who said he was “shocked” when he learned Tuesday that Rivera was a suspect in the Tibbetts murder, also said Rivera was in good standing at the farm, that he came to work on time every day and got along with co-workers.
He showed up for work for the 35 days between the disappearance of Tibbetts on July 18 and the discovery of her body early Tuesday, and did not act any differently, Lang said.
Rivera’s duties on the farm included caring for the cows.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Cox Media Group