Body of Missing Iowan Student Found

photo credit: CNN

photo credit: CNN

Jessica Townsend

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Mollie Tibbetts, a 20-year-old student at the University of Iowa went missing on July 18. After a nearly five-week search, her body was discovered in a rural Poweshiek County corn field. In an autopsy report dated August 23, it was confirmed that she died from several “sharp force injuries.” (

An unnamed citizen near the scene gave officials security footage two weeks ago. In the footage, Tibbetts was seen jogging when she came into contact with the leading suspect, Cristhian Bhena Rivera.

Rivera, a 24-year-old undocumented immigrant has been charged with first-degree murder. ( Rivera told authorities that he got out of his car when he saw Tibbetts in order to run alongside her. When she threatened to call the police, he says he panicked and “blocked his memory.” Rivera claims he didn’t remember anything from the crime, and only realized there was a body in his trunk after he started pulling into the cornfield. (

This case has sparked some controversy over the danger of illegal immigrants. U.S. senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst made a statement expressing their condolences to the family of Tibbetts. They then stated, “Too many Iowans have been lost at the hands of criminals who broke our immigration laws. We cannot allow these tragedies to continue.” (

President Trump also made a comment about the case during a rally in Charleston, Virginia. He said that “The illegal alien came in, very sadly, from Mexico and you saw what happened to that incredible, beautiful young woman,” then added that it  “Should’ve never happened.” (Jerrynews)

However, Breck Goodman, a friend of Tibbetts says, “I know what she stood for, and she would not approve…I don’t want her death to be used for more prejudice and discrimination, and I don’t think she’d want that either.” Additionally, Billie Jo Calderwood, Tibbetts’ aunt, said, “I don’t want Mollie’s memory to get lost amongst politics.” She was speaking for herself and not on behalf of the whole family, who have not made a statement in relation to immigration. They did, however, thank everyone who assisted in the search and sent prayers for them. (

Rivera made his initial court appearance August 22, and will return on the 31st of the month. His bond has been set at $5 million.