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In Mollie Tibbetts Case, a Surprise Move by Her Mother

Laura Calderwood takes in teen son of immigrants who knew alleged killer
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 28, 2018 11:55 AM CST
Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, leaves a courtroom after pleading not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of Mollie Tibbetts on Sept. 19, 2018.   (Kelsey Kremer/Des Moines Register via AP, Pool)
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(Newser) – A remarkable twist in the story involving the murder of 20-year-old Iowa college student Molly Tibbetts, delivered via Terrence McCoy of the Washington Post. Tibbetts was allegedly murdered by an undocumented immigrant named Cristhian Bahena Rivera, a 24-year-old who worked as a farm laborer in the rural community of Brooklyn, Iowa. Now Tibbetts' mother, Laura Calderwood, has taken in the 17-year-old son of Mexican immigrants, a boy whose family is closely tied to the alleged killer. The teen's name is Ulises Felix. His parents had worked alongside Bahena Rivera, who was a regular fixture at the family trailer in Brooklyn and had a child with Felix's cousin. Felix's parents decided to leave town amid a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment that sprang up after the slaying, but Felix wanted to remain and finish high school.

That's when Calderwood, 55, welcomed Felix into a spare room of her home. Not only did her teenage son, Scott, request the new home for his friend, but Calderwood says it's what her daughter would have wanted. (Molly's father, who is separated from Calderwood, has written that his daughter would have found the anti-immigration views "racist.") Though Calderwood tends to keep her views to herself, the Post story describes how she has recoiled at the use of her daughter's murder in the immigration debate by politicians including Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and President Trump. Read the full story, which details life in the Tibbetts home and Felix's occasional reminiscences ("he was a pretty funny dude") about the accused murderer. (Bahena Rivera faces trial in April.)

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