The past week, the internet has been abuzz with news of the death of Iowa coed Mollie Tibbets, 20, who was found dead after being missing for a month when her alleged killer led police to her body. She was last seen going for a run near her Iowa home.
Most of the news coverage since Mollie’s body was found has been concerning her alleged killer, Cristhian Bahena Rivera, an immigrant from Mexico, who was charged with murder last week after leading police to her body. Much has been made over whether or not Rivera was in the country legally or not. Members of Mollie’s family have been vocal about their distaste of her death to make a case against immigrants, saying her death should not be politicized. In a Facebook post that is no longer public, Mollie’s aunt Billie Jo Caldwell said, “Please remember, Evil comes in EVERY color. Our family has been blessed to be surrounded by love, friendship, and support throughout this entire ordeal by friends from all different nations and races. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.”
At her funeral this past Sunday, Mollie’s dad Rob Tibbetts gave a powerful, emotional eulogy for his beloved daughter, and asked that his community focus on togetherness, not vengeance. Taking a stand against the heat the Hispanic community is taking from the country and community for Mollie’s death, her dad 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.”
He spoke of his daughter as a “bright, shining light” and said it was time for their family and community to move forward.
“Today, we need to turn the page,” he said. “We’re at the end of a long ordeal. But we need to turn toward life — Mollie’s life — because Mollie’s nobody’s victim. Mollie’s my hero.”
Mollie’s cousin Morgan Collum also spoke at the funeral, imploring friends and family to be thankful to God for the time they had with Mollie Tibbets rather than being angry that her life was cut short.
“Please, don’t be mad at God for taking Mollie away from us,” she said. “Rather, praise God for His perfect creation in making a soul so sweet, so pure and so caring to all.”
Continuing with the positive them of Mollie’s celebration of life, the priest presiding over the funeral asked their community to focus on forgiveness, saying, “We need to pray for a spirit of forgiveness for the one who did this. Faith teaches us that Christ came to forgive. We’re all in need of forgiveness. We’re all sinners. None of us are exempt.”
As for Rivera, I certainly hope he gets legal justice, but I also hope that no other Hispanics are made to suffer for his crimes. Mollie’s death is tragic enough as it is, and one quick look at how people are using her Twitter account to revile a part of our population will make you sick and angry real quick. (Don’t look, really. I’m sorry I did.) I’m with the Tibbets family—the only way to heal from these situations is through love and forgiveness. And my own personal opinion is that rather than focusing on immigrants, we need to focus on toxic masculinity and what turned Rivera into a predator. What made him think he could accost a young woman out for a run and take her and murder her? (I’m going to go ahead and guess that pornography had something to do with it. Because that stuff turns normal men into monsters.) Honestly, America — the real crisis we’re facing is that many, many men, regardless of race, view women as objects to be used for their personal gratification. And while forgiveness is always appropriate, so is doing something to BREAK this cycle.
Rest in peace, Mollie. Your family is in my continued prayers.