Another one of those senseless homicides that makes you wince, especially if you’re a parent. And a case reminiscent of the Kate Steinle murder that will also likely inflame the debate even more over illegal aliens staying in the United States.
You maybe didn’t hear much about it because of the far more famous court cases that riveted the media’s attention in Washington Thursday involving former pals of President Trump.
Here’s a sadder story: Mollie Tibbetts was 20, a bright-faced Brookyln, Iowa girl destined to study psychology, specializing in treatment of battered women.
“She was already everybody’s counselor,” said Kayleigh Holland, a close friend. “Any problem that they had, you knew Mollie would help you fix it.”
Born in San Francisco, she was originally supposed to be a Grace. But her parents took one look at their newborn. Her father Rob said, “She looks more like a Mollie.” And that was that. A primary school teacher remembers her as “sweeter than a button.”
By her senior year in high school Mollie, a devout Catholic, was a school choir leader who made everyone feel involved and welcome. She loved acting and worked her way up in drama class to a lead role in “Shrek the Musical.” This summer she worked at a youth day camp again and took some classes.
She was a determined high school cross-country runner. She went jogging on July 19. And never came back.
Soon after her disappearance, police watched film from one of those video surveillance cameras that have become so ubiquitous in recent years.
It showed Tibbetts running around a couple of streets just outside Brooklyn, the kind of Midwestern community where residents instinctively suspect the best of others.
The video also showed a black Chevy Malibu circling the same area about 7:45 p.m. The vehicle belonged to Christhian Rivera, an illegal immigrant who’s lived in the area about four years, authorities said. Police brought him in for questioning on Monday.
Police gave the 24-year-old’s following account:
That he confessed to “making contact with a female running in Brooklyn” and followed her as she jogged. He stopped the car and ran up behind her. She may not have heard him because of the ear buds she was wearing listening to music. He began running next to her. She took out her phone and threatened to call police.
Rivera says he panicked then and remembers nothing more until he was driving and realized Mollie’s earbuds were in his lap and she was in the trunk. He drove into the country and took a dirt path into a cornfield.
Police would not say if Mollie was alive when Rivera says he took her from the trunk, dragged her into the cornfield and threw some corn stalks on top of her. This week he lead police to the cornfield where they found a female body in the clothes Mollie Tibbetts was wearing when she left to jog.
Rivera has been charged with first-degree murder and is held under a million-dollar bond.
Tibbetts will not be starting her sophomore year at the University of Iowa this week, nor attending any more Saturday Hawkeye football games with her boyfriend Dalton Jack.