POWESHIEK COUNTY, Iowa (KWWL) — The farmer, whose name became well known during the search for Mollie Tibbetts, was injured Thursday morning when a gas explosion leveled his home.
The Des Moines Register reports that the explosion happened at 9:45 a.m. on the 70-acre farm of Wayne Cheney in Poweshiek County. Cheney was interviewed by the FBI and took a polygraph exam during the search for Tibbetts, however, investigators never named him as a suspect or a person of interest in the case.
The Register said Cheney’s farm sits about 13 miles from Brooklyn, Tibbetts’ hometown. Cheney repeatedly denied ever meeting Tibbetts or her family.
The Register was told by Poweshiek County Sheriff Tom Kriegel that Cheney was sent to an Iowa City hospital with burns, though he did not know the extent of his injuries.
The Register reports that Cheney told firefighters he was trying to light a space heater before his home exploded.
Sheriff Kriegel told The Register that the home is a total loss.
Cristhian Bahena Rivera has been charged with the murder of Tibbetts, and an initial trial date has been set for April of this year.