Mollie Tibbetts's Aunt Responds to Murder Suspect's Alleged Immigration Status: 'Evil Comes in All Colors'

A family member of Mollie Tibbetts is speaking out after authorities announced that an undocumented immigrant was arrested as the suspect in the Iowa girl's death.

Billie Jo Calderwood took to Facebook on Tuesday evening to say that "evil comes in every color" after a press conference where police announced that they believed they had found the 20-year-old's body, who was missing since July.

"Please remember, Evil comes in EVERY color," Calderwood wrote. "Our family has been blessed to be surrounded by love, friendship and support throughout this entire ordeal by friends from all different nations and races. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you."

Officials said the suspect, Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, abducted Tibbetts on July 18, in Poweshiek County, Iowa, before he killed her and hid her body in a cornfield. Rivera, who worked on Yarrabee Farms, is an alleged undocumented immigrant from Mexico but had passed government background checks, ABC News reported.

Rivera, who had lived in Iowa for about four to seven years, told officials he crossed paths with Tibbetts before. He followed her with his car and then parked the car to run "behind and alongside" her, according to an affidavit. Tibbetts reportedly told Rivera to stay away or she would call the police, which led him to panic. The 24-year-old became angry, which caused him to "block" his memory, later remembering coming to an intersection with his car, according to the affidavit. Rivera said he dragged Tibbetts's body on foot to a secluded area in a cornfield, the affidavit states.

In the time since authorities announced Rivera was undocumented, however, debate has emerged regarding his immigration status. Attorney Allan M. Richards, who is representing the suspect claimed that Rivera is in the U.S. legally, according to court documents obtained by the Associated Press. Craig Lang, a co-owner of a dairy farm that employed Rivera claimed Rivera's immigration status was confirmed by an E-Verify electronic immigration status check, the AP reported.

The news of Tibbett's death and Rivera's alleged legal status in the U.S. has added fuel to an already fierce immigration debate, as some politicians point the finger at U.S. laws for allowing the suspect into the country. During a rally in West Virginia on Tuesday night, President Donald Trump called immigration laws in the U.S. a "disgrace."

"You saw what happened to that incredible, beautiful, young woman [Mollie Tibbetts]. Should have never happened...the immigration laws are such a disgrace," Trump said.

Newsweek has reached out to Calderwood for comment but did not hear back in time for publication. Tibbetts's family released a statement on Wednesday, thanking their supporters and asking for privacy during their time of grieving.

"Our hearts are broken. On behalf of Mollie's entire family, we thank all of those from around the world who have sent their thoughts and prayers for our girl. We know that many of you will join us as we continue to carry Mollie in our hearts forever," the statement read. "At this time, our family asks that we be allowed the time to process our devastating loss and share our grief in private. Again, thank you for the outpouring of love and support that has been shared in Mollie's name. We remain forever grateful."

Rivera is set to appear in Poweshiek County District Court on Wednesday, according to the Iowa Department of Public Safety.

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Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, was charged with first degree murder in the death of missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts. Rivera, an undocumented immigrant, has sparked an immigration debate on immigration laws in the U.S. IOWA DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY
Mollie Tibbetts's Aunt Responds to Murder Suspect's Alleged Immigration Status: 'Evil Comes in All Colors' | U.S.