MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The family of an Iowa college student is asking for time to process their grief after their daughter was killed while out for a run.
Meanwhile, some people are making the investigation political.
The search for 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts came to a somber end Tuesday in a cornfield, about 12 miles from where she went missing.
Investigators used surveillance video to help crack the case and find the man they say is responsible.
Investigators say Christhian Bahena Rivera showed them where he hid Tibbetts’ body. Wednesday, guards walked him into an Iowa courtroom, where he faced murder charges. Investigators say Rivera is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, who lived near Tibbetts.
Her death brought shock and anger, but also political controversy. Republican United States Senate candidate Karin Housley said the Tibbetts murder makes her “angry that our nation failed to protect one of its own.”
In a telephone interview, Housley blamed Democratic Senator Tina Smith for blocking Trump-style immigration reform.
In a statement, Housley calling the murder, “a preventable tragedy that happened because liberal Democrats and open-border advocates are more concerned about protecting criminal aliens than protecting innocent lives.”
“It’s almost as if she wants more rights for the illegal immigrants than she does for our American people, and that’s what’s disturbing,” Housley said.
The Tibbetts family is specifically asking that her murder not become political, but it is already growing as a Republican campaign issue in 2018.
Even President Trump used it at a West Virginia rally on Tuesday.
“You heard about today with the illegal alien coming in, very sadly from Mexico, and you saw what happened to that incredible, beautiful young woman?” Trump said. “Should have never happened, illegally in our country.”
Immigration issues may dominate the 2018 mid-term election. Despite a booming economy, political analysts say both Democrats and Republicans are running “fear” campaigns.
“Fear of immigrants sneaking over the border and then committing heinous crimes, or fear that Donald Trump is lawless and is surrounded by a group of crooks,” said Professor Larry Jacobs, director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
Sen. Smith sent WCCO-TV a statement Wednesday afternoon, calling the murder “an awful tragedy,” and added “the individual responsible for this heinous crime must be brought to justice and punished.”
Smith said also she supports comprehensive immigration reform, including border security and a path to citizenship for people who are in the country working and paying taxes.