Learn more about the background of Cristhian Bahena Rivera, the man charged with abducting and killing Iowan Mollie Tibbetts.
Tyler Davis/The Register
The mother of Mollie Tibbetts, the University of Iowa student whose disappearance and killing attracted national attention, has taken in the son of Mexican immigrants who worked with her daughter’s accused killer, according to a Washington Post report.
In a story published Friday, the Post reported that Laura Calderwood has brought into her home Ulises Felix, a 17-year-old boy whose parents worked alongside murder suspect Cristhian Bahena Rivera at a dairy farm in Brooklyn, Iowa.
After Bahena Rivera’s arrest, Ulises’ parents fled town for Illinois and left behind their American son, a high school boy, according to the Post. When Mollie’s younger brother, Scott, asked Calderwood if they could take in Ulises, the 55-year-old woman wondered what her daughter would do, Post reporter Terrence McCoy wrote.
Ulises has been living in a spare bedroom in Calderwood’s house. Mollie’s brother, Scott, also lives there.
Mollie Tibbetts was found dead Aug. 21, her body hidden in a cornfield in rural Poweshiek County, after a month of searching for her.
Authorities charged Bahena Rivera, a 24-year-old farmhand, with first-degree murder, saying the undocumented immigrant confessed to abducting Mollie while she was on a run July 18, just outside of her hometown of Brooklyn.
After Mollie’s body was found and Bahena Rivera was arrested, some politicians, including President Donald Trump, used her killing as a rallying cry for tougher immigration laws.
Mollie’s father, Rob Tibbetts, has said his daughter would have “vehemently opposed” such anti-immigrant views. She would have considered them profoundly racist, he wrote in a column for the Des Moines Register.
The Post reported that Bahena Rivera had a daughter with Ulises’ cousin, Iris Monarrez, before they separated. He trained Ulises when he worked at Yarrabee Farms, the Post said.
In a text message to the Register, Rob Tibbetts said he has spent time with Ulises and called him a “great young person.”
Ulises, who has played football and basketball for Brooklyn, Guernsey and Malcom High School, where Mollie participated in speech and ran distance events, could not immediately be reached by the Register.
Mollie was remembered by her family and friends as a young woman who demonstrated a desire to help others, a natural ability to work with children and a gift for making anyone feel like the most important person in a room.
Bahena Rivera has pleaded not guilty to murder. He is set to go to trial April 16. If convicted, he will be sentenced to life in prison.
When Ulises came back to a nearly empty home, he messaged Scott Tibbetts saying he did not know what was going to happen, the Post reported. Mollie’s brother texted back quickly, according to the newspaper, telling him: “Live here. We got an extra room.”
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