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The father of murdered Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts is demanding politicians and white supremacists stop using his daughter’s death to promote hate against immigrants.  In an article for The Des Moines Register, Rob Tibbetts wrote, “Do not appropriate Mollie’s soul in advancing views she believed were profoundly racist. The act grievously extends the crime that stole Mollie from our family.  The person who is accused of taking Mollie’s life is no more a reflection of the Hispanic community as white supremacists are of all white people.  To suggest otherwise is a lie.  Sadly, others have ignored our request, they have instead chosen to callously distort and corrupt Mollie’s tragic death to advance a cause she vehemently opposed.”

Tibbetts doesn’t want to see his daughter used as a “pawn in others’ debate,” he said.  “She may not be able to speak for herself, but I can and will. Please leave us out of your debate. Allow us to grieve in privacy and with dignity. At long last, show some decency. On behalf of my family and Mollie’s memory, I’m imploring you to stop.”

Rob Tibbetts also addressed animosity towards immigrants at his daughter’s funeral when he said “the Hispanic community are Iowans, they have the same values as Iowans. As far as I’m concerned, they’re Iowans with better food.”  “To the Hispanic community, my family stands with you and offers its heartfelt apology.  That you’ve been beset by the circumstances of Mollie’s death is wrong. We treasure the contribution you bring to the American tapestry in all its color and melody.”

Before she went missing, Tibbetts’ brother dropped her off at her boyfriend’s house so she could dog-sit.  Her family reported her missing the next day after she did not show up for work.  The last time anyone saw Tibbetts, 20, was around 7:30 p.m. on July 18th as she was jogging in Brooklyn, a community of 1,500 people in eastern Iowa.  According to her boyfriend, Dalton Jack, Tibbetts had sent him a message saying she was heading out for some exercise as part of her typical routine.  A massive ground search involving more than 200 people broken up into 37 teams was conducted on July 20 encompassing the farmlands and fields within a five-mile radius of Brooklyn, with helicopters hovering above, according to authorities.  Investigators had received more than 1,500 tips and conducted more than 500 interviews in the case.

The investigation led to 24-year-old Cristhian Bahena Rivera of rural Poweshiek County, an undocumented farmworker from Mexico who has been charged with first-degree murder for her death.  Investigators say their search led to Rivera after they acquired surveillance camera footage that showed Mollie running, as well as the travel patterns of a vehicle believed to belong to Rivera. After reviewing the video, they determined that Rivera was one of the last people to see her running.

During the police interview, Rivera said that he had seen Tibbitts before and when he saw her running on July 18th, he began following her.  He parked his car and began running alongside and behind her.  At some point, Mollie took out her phone and told him “You need to leave me alone. I’m going to call the police” and then she took off running.   Rivera told police that he got angry and chased her down but that he blacked out and woke up at an intersection in rural Poweshiek County.  He told investigators he realized he had put the woman in the trunk of his car and when he took her out, he saw blood on the side of her head.  He then drove to a rural cornfield and left the body in the field, covering it with corn leaves.   Investigators said that after the interview, Rivera led investigators to her body.

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