Mollie Tibbetts heartbroken father Rob delivered an uplifting eulogy celebrating his daughter’s life during a memorial service for the slain 20-year-old and thanking the Hispanic community for helping with the month-long search
Slain Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts’ father thanked the local Hispanic community for assisting in the search for his daughter, whose confessed killer is believed to be an illegal immigrant from Mexico.
Rob Tibbetts delivered a touching eulogy during the melancholy memorial service on Sunday, in which he noted the encounters he’d had with sensitive and kind Hispanics in the small town of Brooklyn, Iowa, during the month-long search for his daughter.
He appeared to be skirting around recent comments by President Donald Trump and others who have seized upon suspect Cristhian Bahena Rivera’s citizenship to argue for changes in US immigration laws.
He said that members of the Hispanic community in the small farm town have ‘the same values as Iowans,’ and that he considers them ‘Iowans with better food’.
More than 1,200 people gathered in the gymnasium of BGM High School, where Mollie graduated from in 2017, to pay their respect to the 20-year-old on Sunday afternoon – less than a week after a month-long search ended in tragedy when she was found stabbed to death in a cornfield.
More than 1,200 people attended the memorial service at BGM High School on Sunday – less than a week after Mollie’s body was found stabbed to death in a cornfield in her hometown
In his eulogy, Rob Tibbetts 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’
Tibbetts had been staying in Brooklyn during a summer break from her studies at the University of Iowa when she went out for a run on July 18 and never returned home.
A month later, 24-year-old Rivera was arrested after police traced him through surveillance footage that showed his car following Mollie.
The father-of-one then led police to her lifeless body and confessed to attacking Mollie, putting her in the trunk of his car and driving her to a field 10 miles away.
Friends and family are pictured arriving to mourn the 20-year-old’s death on Sunday
Balloons have been tied to the fence surrounding the cornfield where Mollie’s body was found
A blue ribbon hangs on a light post in Brooklyn earlier this month amidst the search for Mollie
Mollie was finally put to rest on Sunday during the funeral led by Bishop Thomas Zinkula of Davenport, Iowa, attended by nearly the entire population of the town of just 1,500.
The words ‘I, the Lord of sea and sky, I have heard my people cry,’ rang out in the opening hymn, which was followed by most typical components of Mass.
A makeshift altar had been set up at the front of the gym with several of Mollie’s senior portraits.
In his emotional eulogy, Rob Tibbetts called on the community to come together in the wake of his daughter’s death.
‘Today, we need to turn the page. We’re at the end of a long ordeal,’ Mollie’s father Rob Tibbetts said in his eulogy, 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.’
He went on: ‘The person best equipped to help us through this is Mollie. So let’s try to do what Mollie would do. Let’s say what Mollie would say.’
Rob extended his gratitude to the many volunteers and law enforcement officers for their tireless efforts to find the 20-year-old psychology major.
He also thanked the media for covering the case and allowing people across the world to get to know Mollie.
‘You want to know why there’s been such an outpouring? It’s because we see ourselves in Mollie,’ he said.
In his emotional eulogy, Rob Tibbetts called on the community to come together in the wake of his daughter’s death, saying: ‘The person best equipped to help us through this is Mollie. So let’s try to do what Mollie would do. Let’s say what Mollie would say’
The Reverend Corey Close – a pastor at the church Mollie often attended with her grandmother – delivered a homily in which he described Mollie as a ‘bright and shining light’.
‘When I think of the life of Mollie Tibbetts and her tragic death, I wonder why she is gone and I am still here,’ Rev Close said.
He addressed the fact that the reeling community had been left with the question ‘How can a good God allow such horrible things to happen?’, but encouraged mourners to keep the faith.
‘Do not let Mollie die in vain,’ he said. ‘Rededicate yourselves to live a good life, a faithful life, a life of goodness and compassion.
‘It is so easy to be bitter, to feel like we have nothing to contribute. But Mollie’s energy, her smile and her tenacity for doing good reminded me who I am called to be.’
Last week Mollie’s older brother Jake, pictured left with her, remembered his sister’s passion and her outgoing personality. Her younger brother Scott is pictured right
Jake Tibbetts embraces three young girls during a vigil for Mollie last week
On Friday Mollie’s younger brother Scott scored three touchdowns in a football game he nearly missed after his sister’s body was discovered
Last week Mollie’s older brother, Jake, remembered his sister’s passion and her 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.’
On Friday Mollie’s younger brother Scott scored three touchdowns in a football game he nearly missed after his sister’s body was discovered.
The 18-year-old is a senior at the high school where the memorial was held.
Mourners tie balloons at the site Mollie’s body was found on the day of her funeral
Mollie’s family is still waiting to hear what Rivera’s motive was in killing the 20-year-old.
The confessed killer was revealed to be an illegal migrant farm worker from Mexico who used a fake ID to pass background checks, his employers say.
He was working at Yarrabee Farms when he allegedly followed Tibbetts in his car before killing her when she threatened to call police.
Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, was arrested on Monday and made a full confession to killing Mollie
Dane Lang, co-owner of the farm, previously said that Rivera had worked there for four years and passed all background checks, despite police saying he had been in the US illegally the entire time.
Lang later revealed that Rivera used a fake ID and social security number to cheat the Social Security Administration verification system, which the farm used.
Police also revealed that the dark-colored Chevy Malibu Rivera was seen driving in CCTV footage on the night Tibbetts vanished was also not registered in his name.
Authorities say that Rivera has been in the US illegally for between four and seven years, though his lawyers say otherwise.
During his first court appearance on Wednesday, lawyer Allan Richards insisted Rivera was in the country legally and ‘has the legal documents’ to prove it, though he did not produce any of those documents.
Richards also revealed that Rivera first came to America as a minor, has held a job since then and has no prior criminal record.
His client remained largely silent throughout the bail hearing, answering ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to questions which were read to him through an interpreter.
A judge ordered Rivera to be held in lieu of a $5million bond.
The poignant tribute marks the spot where officers discovered the student’s body