How the Man Accused of Killing Mollie Tibbetts Built a Life in an Iowa Farm Town

President Trump has cited the first-degree murder charge against Mr. Bahena Rivera as proof of the need for tougher border security. Iowa politicians and conservative news outlets have seized on the case as ammunition as November’s election nears. And here in Brooklyn, population 1,400, residents have struggled to understand how the man they saw at the grocery store could be tied to the death of Mollie Tibbetts, a psychology student and summer camp counselor who disappeared last month while out for a jog.

Mr. Bahena Rivera, who is jailed on a $5 million cash bond, was one of many Mexicans who have made their way to Iowa’s pastures, where farmers often struggle to find eligible workers to tend their crops and cattle. Mr. Bahena Rivera grew up in El Guayabillo, a village of unpaved roads some three hours’ drive from Acapulco on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, and attended the only elementary school in the village of about 400 people.

Not sure if it’s the timing or the politicization of the case but the facts are a bit sketchy and leave many unanswered questions such as motive. Also, was there DNA evidence?

US prisons are filled with innocent people forced to confess to crimes they never committed.

Cristhian Bahena Rivera arrest sounds like a movie straight out of Hollywood. A story made for Trump to further incite hate for immigrants.

Can someone investigate the investigation of this case? We might find Trump’s fingerprints. Seems Mr Rivera was presumed guilty from the start. Don’t let hate blind us from looking beneath the surface or questioning the narrative.

This administration is desperate and will do anything to stay in power.


Author: Angela Grant

Angela Grant is a medical doctor. For 22 years, she practiced emergency medicine and internal medicine. She studied for one year at Harvard T. H Chan School Of Public Health. She writes about culture, race, and health.

21 thoughts on “How the Man Accused of Killing Mollie Tibbetts Built a Life in an Iowa Farm Town

    1. Hi Kate,
      What’s sketchy is he blacked out. The details are sketchy. Based on the narrative from “law enforcement” he woke up with blood all over him. Shouldn’t they have found his DNA on her? What’s the motive?

      The timing and story are suspicious. And it is not far fetched to believe law enforcement (with Trumps’ suggestion) grabbed an illegal immigrant to pin the murder. Then forced a confession for political purpose.

      It happens to black people quite frequently. The Central Park Five is one case I can never forget.

    2. I had personal experience where there was no evidence, but the cops created a salacious story that stuck and no one questioned. The court thick with corruption. The amount of bail was used as evidence of a crime in the courtroom in front of a presumably “competent” judge. I know people who were framed.

      In this hostile environment to immigrants, do you think law enforcement will do a thorough investigation to make sure they have the right person? Evidence can always be manufactured, and a confession forced, particularly, when law enforcement controls the data and the narrative.

  1. Have they fully processed all the evidence yet? I am sure that takes time and extra help given that Brooklyn and Powesheik County are so small.

      1. No I don’t have faith in the system. I have spent part of this year trying to deal with the aftermath of an episode of one woman I know violently beating an elderly woman I know, with almost no consequences. My 16 year old son has practically had more disruption to his life for getting a ticket for an improper lane change than the woman convicted of assaulting an elderly woman.

        1. Hi Kate, only people I know who have faith in the system are those who are paid by it.

          It seems most of us have had horrific encounters not only with law enforcement but also with the criminal system that is to provide justice. Justice is not blind instead it is extraordinarily biased and bigoted.

          How do we change this criminal system to one of justice? It is destroying families and communities with impunity and mirth.

  2. I’m taking a different position to place responsibility on the system, and it’s not the immigration system. Whether or not he is guilty, he could not have resided in the U.S. for this long without income and housing. Those who employed him, or sold vehicles to him (if so), who rented housing to him, are those responsible for his STAYING here.

    1. Zena that is probably the most effective approach to stopping immigration of illegal immigrants: Remove the demand and support for illegal immigration.

      Trump’s immigration policy is inane, discriminatory and criminal. The separation of children from their parents is a crime against humanity.

      1. Regarding the separation of children from parents, I caught on to Trump’s attitude when he said that if parents didn’t want their children separated from them, then they shouldn’t cross the border illegally. In essence, he believes that children are “property” that can be confiscated when parents commit a crime, even before they are found guilty.

        This is a process under federal law that generally applies to defendants charged with making money illegally, such as drug dealers. If convicted, property is forfeited; taken over by the government and sold to the highest bidder to recover “costs”. In other words, Trump looks at the children as material property that parents forfeit when they cross the border illegally. He does not recognize them as human beings.

        1. Good point! He looks at brown and black children as property.

          The law is a funny thing. It’s applied without mercy or evidence when it imprisons innocent people of color.

          1. Trump’s problem is having power without knowing law, and not caring about law. A large reason why the law is not applied equally is because of the lack of free and unbiased legal representation. Public defenders are not going to put much time into defending — they plea bargain instead. While the court system in civil cases provides for losing parties to pay the legal costs of winning parties, that does not apply in the criminal system. That means that the average working person in the U.S. cannot afford legal representation.

            1. Even when you pay for legal defense, you don’t get the best representation. Some attorneys intentionally hold back, and some give bad advice. Many competent lawyers are racist.

              Are Public defenders real lawyers? I often wonder. My brother is an attorney, and he would disagree with me. Public defenders do their clients a disservice by knowingly feeding the prison pipeline. It seems to me the increase in mass incarceration suggests public defenders are ineffective.

              Essentially, the average working person of color is doubly screwed. One reason I think Mr. Rivera may be innocent and the killer of Mollie Tibbetts laughing. Do you think his public defender worked hard to defend him? How perfect and convenient for Trump to have the killer of Mollie Tibbetts be an illegal immigrant.

              Wish Mueller could look into that case.

    1. Sadly, the only thing I know is he will not get justice. He “blacked out” and then dumped the body is the public story or the “official” story. What was the motive? Are we to believe immigrants are inherently killers so no motive is necessary?

      What about DNA evidence on her?

            1. Looks like the initial confession touted by law enforcement may have been forced or under duress. He pleaded not guilty in court. Hopefully his trial will not be conducted in the usual court of travesty but instead in a court that seeks the truth and justice. Don’t think there are many such courts any more that require law enforcement, prosecutors, court appointed attorneys and judges to do their jobs. It’s a sad state of affairs when the criminal system is built on bigotry.

Share your thoughts

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.