The grieving father of murdered Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts insisted on “celebrating something wonderful” at the young woman’s funeral, remembering her spirit and passion for life instead of how she died.
During a eulogy Sunday for his 20-year-old daughter, Rob Tibbetts recognized a couple who had gotten married a day earlier and asked them to stand because “that’s what Mollie would have done.”
"Today, we need to turn the page. We’re at the end of a long ordeal," Tibbetts said, according to the Des Moines Register. "But we need to turn toward life — Mollie’s life — because Mollie’s nobody’s victim. Mollie’s my hero."
The body of Mollie Tibbetts was discovered last week in a corn field after police were led to the area by the man suspected of killing her. The young woman disappeared after going out for a run on July 18.
"The person best equipped to help us through this is Mollie," her father said. "So let’s try to do what Mollie would do. Let’s say what Mollie would say."
The young psychology major had been home for the summer before her sophomore year at the University of Iowa.
Her older brother, Jake Tibbetts, last week remembered his sister’s passion and outgoing personality.
"She wasn't a silent person in the literal sense in that when she talked, everyone in the room heard her, and also about things she cared about, things she was passionate about,” he said. “She wouldn't stay silent if she felt something was wrong, and that's what's so great about her."
Cristhian Bahena Rivera, a 24-year-old Mexican immigrant, has been accused of killing Mollie Tibbetts. An autopsy reported that she died from stab wounds.
Authorities say Rivera, who was being held in lieu of a $5 million cash-only bond, is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. His case has inflamed the national debate over immigration and has drawn comments from President Trump.
Rob Tibbetts has not commented publicly on the topic. But in his eulogy he highlighted how the local Hispanic community had embraced him as he searched for his daughter.
"The Hispanic community are Iowans. They have the same values as Iowans," he said, including an emphasis on family. "As far as I'm concerned, they're Iowans with better food."