The mother of slain University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts opened up her home to the teenage son of Mexican immigrants who worked with the man suspected of killing her daughter and left the small town because they feared it was unsafe.
Laura Calderwood took in Ulises Felix, 17, after his parents left Brooklyn, Iowa, according to the Washington Post. The man accused of killing 20-year-old Tibbetts, Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, worked with Felix’s parents at a dairy farm in the small town. Felix said his mother cooked for Rivera and his cousin dated the suspect. Rivera and Felix’s cousin, Iris Monarrez, had a daughter together but separated later.
After Rivera was arrested, Felix’s parents wanted to leave, fearing the town was unsafe. Felix wanted to finish up school in the town and Tibbett’s brother, Scott, offered to let him stay with him.
“Live here,” Scott told Felix. “We got an extra room.”
When her son asked her if Felix could live with them, Calderwood said she thought of Mollie and what she would do.
Calderwood said she was not aware of Felix’s relationship with Rivera. Felix told Calderwood Rivera was sending money to his family to help them build a house and that he had family in the U.S.
Calderwood opened up about her daughter’s death after a friend asked her how Mollie died.
“In the chest [referring to multiple stab wounds]. And I also know there was one in the skull,” Calderwood told a friend. “… Mollie’s death was horrific.”
In September, Mollie’s father, Rob Tibbetts, wrote an op-ed for the Des Moines Register that his daughter would have “vehemently opposed” anti-immigration views and asked politicians to not use her death to “promote various political agendas.”
Mollie’s body was found in a field covered with corn stalks on Aug. 21. She was last seen jogging in Brooklyn, Iowa, on July 18.
Investigators said they used surveillance footage to track down Rivera. The video showed Tibbetts jogging and Rivera’s car. A criminal complaint alleges Rivera confessed to authorities during a lengthy interrogation, saying he drove his car to follow Tibbetts’ jog, eventually got out on foot to talk to her and then chased after her. Rivera told investigators he panicked after Tibbetts threatened to use her cellphone to call police. He claims he blacked out at that point and later came to as he was unloading Tibbetts’ bloody body from the trunk of a car, according to the complaint.
Rivera, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, was charged with first-degree murder in Tibbetts’ death. He pleaded not guilty to murder charges at his arraignment. His trial is slated to begin on April 16, 2019.
Fox News’ Jennifer Earl and Greg Norman contributed to this report.