Mollie Tibbetts’ mother took in child of Mexican immigrants after suspect in daughter’s murder arrested

Mollie's body was found earlier this year after she was missing for more than a month

Clark Mindock
New York
Friday 28 December 2018 22:20 GMT
Mollie Tibbetts went missing in July – a 24-year-old man has been arrested in connection with her murder
Mollie Tibbetts went missing in July – a 24-year-old man has been arrested in connection with her murder (AP)

The mother of the 20-year-old college student who was allegedly murdered by an undocumented immigrant earlier this year took in the child of Mexican parents after the killing.

Laura Calderwood took in 17-year-old Ulises Felix after his Mexican parents fled town this year when the man alleged to have killed her daughter was arrested.

Ms Calderwood said that she felt compelled to help in the situation in part by thinking about what her late daughter, Mollie Tibbetts, would have done, see told The Washington Post. Ulises’ parents had worked alongside the accused killer, Cristhian Bahena Rivera, for years at an Iowa dairy farm.

Mollie’s death sparked renewed debate surrounding immigration in the United States, and caught the attention of President Donald Trump, who used the killing as evidence to make the case that immigrants are a danger to the country. Mr Rivera has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge against him.

But Ms Calderwood, a lifelong liberal, told The Washington Post that she resented the way her daughter’s murder was politicised, and that Mollie stood in diametric opposition to Mr Trump and his political platform.

She said that she could not stand hearing the president using her daughter as a political prop.

“You heard about today with the illegal alien coming in, very sadly, from Mexico and you saw what happened to that incredible, beautiful young woman,” Mr Trump said at the time. “Should’ve never happened. … The laws are so bad, the immigration laws are such a disgrace. We’re getting it changed, but we have to get more Republicans”.

In addition to working alongside the man who killed Mollie, Ulises’ parents acted as something of a proxy family to the man, according to the teenager. They had “taken care of” Mr Rivera “for a while” he said, noting that his mother had fed him every day.

“He was so busy sending money back to his parents, trying to help them build a house,” Ulises said of Mr Rivera.

Mollie’s body was found in August after she was missing for more than a month.

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It was determined that she had gone missing while jogging in the Iowa town of Brooklyn. It was later determined that her cause of death was a “homicide resulting from multiple sharp force injuries”, according to the Iowa State Medical Examiner.

Mollie’s family has called on politicians to not us the 20-year-old college student’s death as a political bargaining chip in negotiations surrounding US immigration laws.

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