Trump commented on the murder of 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts at a rally in West Virginia on Tuesday, using her death to highlight the need for stricter immigration laws in the United States.
“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. Should’ve never happened. Illegally in our country,” he said at a rally in Charleston, West Virginia.
He continued: “We’ve had a huge impact but the laws are so bad,” he continued. “The immigration laws are such a disgrace. We’re getting them changed, but we have to get more Republicans.”
Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, who authorities said has been living illegally in the United States for at least four years, was charged with first degree murder in the death of Tibbetts, after leading authorities to her body in an Iowa cornfield, a few miles away from where she disappeared in Brooklyn, Iowa.
Rivera admitted to pursuing Tibbetts, but after she turned him down and threatened to call the police, he claims he “blacked out” and came to in a cornfield with earbuds on his lap, which triggered his memory that he had put Tibbetts in his trunk. He then dragged her body out to the cornfield and covered her with corn stalks.
“The loss of Mollie Tibbetts is a devastating reminder that we must urgently fix our broken immigration laws,” the White House tweeted Tuesday night.
Trump was in West Virginia stumping for Senate candidate Patrick Morrissey, who is challenging incumbent Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin in November.
As of last week, investigators had narrowed their focus to areas near where the woman disappeared. However, further information about the location was not yet revealed. Mollie’s body was found on August 21, 2018, reports said.
Tibbetts went missing on July 18 from Brooklyn, Iowa, while dog sitting at her boyfriend’s brother’s house. She was last seen jogging around 7:30 p.m. The circumstances surrounding her disappearance are not clear; while Tibbetts was not seen after the run, she did talk to her mother and her boyfriend in the hours after it. Police do not know when she vanished, or if she went for a pre-work run in the morning on July 19.
Tibbetts’ family reported her missing on Thursday, July 19, after she didn’t show up for work and stopped responding to calls and messages. Her phone was going straight to voicemail, he family said. Tibbetts works as a day camp intern at Grinnell Regional Medical Center, according to her Facebook page. While her family originally thought she went missing Wednesday night, they now think she might have disappeared Thursday.
Her boyfriend Dalton Jack also suspected an issue Thursday morning. “I was the one who threw red flags,” Jack told KCRG-TV. “She hadn’t called in. I looked at my phone and noticed I texted her good morning that morning and she hadn’t looked at it so I got ahold of her friends and family.”
Rivera confessed to killing Tibbetts and has been charged with first-degree murder, according to police. He is a resident of Poweshiek County, Iowa, and lived in the area for several years while working at a local farm. According to police, he faces life in prison without the chance of parole, and is being held on an immigration detainer. Police confirmed with the Department of Homeland Security Investigations that he is an “illegal alien.”