In the days since Mollie Tibbetts’ body was found covered with cornstalks in an Iowa field, her family has chosen to mourn mostly in private.

But on Saturday, nearly a week after burying the University of Iowa student, the family broke its silence to deliver a message to every politician who has used her death as an election-year talking point to attack illegal immigration:


“I encourage the debate on immigration; there is great merit in its reasonable outcome,” her father, Rob Tibbetts, wrote in an opinion column in the Des Moines Register. “But do not appropriate Mollie’s soul in advancing views she believed were profoundly racist.”

Tibbetts said his family still needs time to mourn, and he asked for continued privacy. But he said he felt compelled to speak because politicians were using his daughter’s name to promote views that she would be opposed to, actions he called “heartless,” “despicable” and “shameless.” The piece expanded on some of the comments he made at his daughter’s funeral defending the Hispanic community.

“My stepdaughter, whom Mollie loved so dearly, is Latina. Her sons – Mollie’s cherished nephews and my grandchildren – are Latino,” Tibbetts wrote in the piece, which ran a day after a column by Donald Trump Jr. in the same publication. ” … To knowingly foment discord among races is a disgrace to our flag.”

Mollie Tibbetts disappeared in July after she left for a jog. The man accused of killing her is in the country illegally and had worked on a dairy farm in Brooklyn, Iowa. He told detectives that he chased after her but that he blacked out and doesn’t remember the assault. His only memory was finding a piece of her earphones in his lap and her body in his trunk, police said in court documents.

He led authorities to a spot deep in the cornfield where he had hidden the 20-year-old’s body.

News of the dramatic and tragic discovery spread as President Trump’s former campaign chairman and personal attorney were convicted of crimes in federal court. But in Tibbetts’ death, the president and some conservatives found ammunition to defend his statements on illegal immigration – and, some say, a distraction from damaging news.

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