On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump released a video acknowledging the death of Mollie Tibbetts, the college student murdered after going for an evening jog in rural Iowa. But among his expressions of sympathy and sadness was another, more divisive message.
“Mollie Tibbetts, an incredible young woman, is now permanently separated from her family. A person came in from Mexico, illegally, and killed her,” Trump said in the clip. “We need the wall, we need our immigration laws changed, we need our border laws changed. We need Republicans to do it because the Democrats aren’t going to do it.
“This is one instance of many. We have tremendous crime trying to come through the borders.”
The President is just one of many politicising the 20-year-old’s murder, wrenching a single crime and a family’s personal tragedy into the national debate about immigration. And her loved ones are despairing.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 22, 2018
Mollie’s body was discovered in a farm field on Tuesday, five weeks after she disappeared while running in the small Iowan city of Brooklyn. The same day, police charged 24-year-old Cristhian Rivera with her murder. It was he who led them to her remains.
While investigators are yet to reveal an alleged motive, Special Agent Rick Rahn of Iowa’s Department of Criminal Investigation told media Rivera was familiar with Mollie prior to her murder.
“He told us he had seen Mollie in the past and on that particular day, July 18, 2018, he happened to see her, he was drawn to her, and as a result, kind of followed her around a little bit and ultimately confronted her. And ended up tackling her and ultimately abducting her,” Rahn said, according to NBC.