Mollie Tibbetts’ mom took in son of Mexican immigrants after murder suspect’s arrest, report says

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Learn more about the background of Cristhian Bahena Rivera, the man charged with abducting and killing Iowan Mollie Tibbetts.
Tyler Davis/The Register

The mother of Mollie Tibbetts, the University of Iowa student whose disappearance and killing attracted national attention, has taken in the son of Mexican immigrants who worked with her daughter’s accused killer, according to a Washington Post report. 

In a story published Friday, the Post reported that Laura Calderwood has brought into her home Ulises Felix, a 17-year-old boy whose parents worked alongside murder suspect Cristhian Bahena Rivera at a dairy farm in Brooklyn, Iowa. 

After Bahena Rivera’s arrest, Ulises’ parents fled town for Illinois and left behind their American son, a high school boy, according to the Post. When Mollie’s younger brother, Scott, asked Calderwood if they could take in Ulises, the 55-year-old woman wondered what her daughter would do, Post reporter Terrence McCoy wrote.

Ulises has been living in a spare bedroom in Calderwood’s house. Mollie’s brother, Scott, also lives there. 

RELATED: Complete coverage of Mollie’s disappearance, death

Mollie Tibbetts was found dead Aug. 21, her body hidden in a cornfield in rural Poweshiek County, after a month of searching for her.

Authorities charged Bahena Rivera, a 24-year-old farmhand, with first-degree murder, saying the undocumented immigrant confessed to abducting Mollie while she was on a run July 18, just outside of her hometown of Brooklyn.

Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, has been charged with first-degree murder in Mollie Tibbetts' death. Here he is brought into the Poweshiek County Courthouse on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018 in Montezuma.

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Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, has been charged with first-degree murder in Mollie Tibbetts' death. Here he is brought into the Poweshiek County Courthouse on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018 in Montezuma.

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Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, has been charged with first-degree murder in Mollie Tibbetts' death. Here he is brought into the Poweshiek County Courthouse on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018 in Montezuma.

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Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, has been charged with first-degree murder in Mollie Tibbetts' death. Here he is brought into the Poweshiek County Courthouse on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018 in Montezuma.

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Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, has been charged with first-degree murder in Mollie Tibbetts' death. Here he is brought into the Poweshiek County Courthouse on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018 in Montezuma.

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Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, has been charged with first-degree murder in Mollie Tibbetts' death. Here he is brought into the Poweshiek County Courthouse on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018 in Montezuma.

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Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, has been charged with first-degree murder in Mollie Tibbetts' death. Here he is brought into the Poweshiek County Courthouse on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018 in Montezuma.

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Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, is lead from the courtroom after making his initial appearance on a charge of first-degree murder during at the Poweshiek County Courthouse in Montezuma, Iowa, on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018. Rivera is accused of killing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts.
Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, looks to his attorney Allan Richards as he makes his initial appearance on a charge of first-degree murder during at the Poweshiek County Courthouse in Montezuma, Iowa, on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018. Rivera is accused of killing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts.
Defense attorney Allan Richards argues to exclude expanded media coverage from the initial appearance of Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, before magistrate Diane Crooklyn-Johnson in the Poweshiek County Courthouse in Montezuma, Iowa, on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018. Rivera is charged with first-degree murder in the death of University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts.
Magistrate judge Diane Crooklyn-Johnson presides over the initial appearance of Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, on a charge of first-degree murder during at the Poweshiek County Courthouse in Montezuma, Iowa, on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018. Rivera is accused of killing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts.
Defense attorney Allan Richards gesturers towards the jury box and the assembled media as he argues to exclude expanded media coverage from the initial appearance of Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, before magistrate Diane Crooklyn-Johnson in the Poweshiek County Courthouse in Montezuma, Iowa, on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018. Rivera is charged with first-degree murder in the death of University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts.
Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, responds to a question from magistrate judge Diane Crooklyn-Johnson as he makes his initial appearance on a charge of first-degree murder during at the Poweshiek County Courthouse in Montezuma, Iowa, on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018. Rivera is accused of killing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts.
Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, leaves the Poweshiek County Courthouse after was being charged with first-degree murder in Mollie Tibbetts' death on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018 in Montezuma.

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Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, is put in a Sheriff's truck outside the Poweshiek County Courthouse after was being charged with first-degree murder in Mollie Tibbetts' death on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018 in Montezuma.

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Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, is driven away from the Poweshiek County Courthouse after was being charged with first-degree murder in Mollie Tibbetts' death on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018 in Montezuma.

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esus Gamboa, a friend of Mollie Tibbetts speaks to members of the media outside the Poweshiek County Courthouse after Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, was charged with first-degree murder in Mollie Tibbetts' death on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018 in Montezuma.

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Mexican Consul Porfirio Martinez leaves the Poweshiek County Courthouse after Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, was charged with first-degree murder in Mollie Tibbetts' death on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018 in Montezuma.

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Tama lawyer Allan Richards leaves the Poweshiek County Courthouse after his client Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, was charged with first-degree murder in Mollie Tibbetts' death on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018 in Montezuma.

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Iowa assistant attorney general Scott Brown leaves the Poweshiek County Courthouse after Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, was charged with first-degree murder in Mollie Tibbetts' death on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018 in Montezuma.

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After Mollie’s body was found and Bahena Rivera was arrested, some politicians, including President Donald Trump, used her killing as a rallying cry for tougher immigration laws.

Mollie’s father, Rob Tibbetts, has said his daughter would have “vehemently opposed” such anti-immigrant views. She would have considered them profoundly racist, he wrote in a column for the Des Moines Register. 

Scott Tibbetts, brother of Mollie Tibbetts, motions to the sky after throwing a touchdown pass during the the Brooklyn Guernsey Malcom football team's game against Lisbon on Friday, Aug. 24, 2018 in Lisbon. BGM would go on to win 35-24.

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Lead by Scott Tibbetts, brother of Mollie Tibbetts, ends a chant with the rest of the Brooklyn Guernsey Malcom football team after they defeated Lisbon 35-24 during the first week of high school football in Iowa on Friday, Aug. 24, 2018 in Lisbon.

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Scott Tibbetts, brother of Mollie Tibbetts, puts on his helmet before taking the field with the Brooklyn Guernsey Malcom football team as they take on Lisbon during the first week of high school football in Iowa on Friday, Aug. 24, 2018 in Lisbon. BGM would go on to win 35-24.

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Scott Tibbetts, brother of Mollie Tibbetts, looks for a pass as the Brooklyn Guernsey Malcom football team takes on Lisbon during the first week of high school football in Iowa on Friday, Aug. 24, 2018 in Lisbon. BGM would go on to win 35-24.

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Scott Tibbetts, brother of Mollie Tibbetts, is tackled in the end zone for a rushing touchdown as the Brooklyn Guernsey Malcom football team takes on Lisbon during the first week of high school football in Iowa on Friday, Aug. 24, 2018 in Lisbon. BGM would go on to win 35-24.

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Scott Tibbetts, brother of Mollie Tibbetts, is swarmed by his teammates after a touchdown as the Brooklyn Guernsey Malcom football team takes on Lisbon during the first week of high school football in Iowa on Friday, Aug. 24, 2018 in Lisbon. BGM would go on to win 35-24.

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The Post reported that Bahena Rivera had a daughter with Ulises’ cousin, Iris Monarrez, before they separated. He trained Ulises when he worked at Yarrabee Farms, the Post said.

In a text message to the Register, Rob Tibbetts said he has spent time with Ulises and called him a “great young person.”

Ulises, who has played football and basketball for Brooklyn, Guernsey and Malcom High School, where Mollie participated in speech and ran distance events, could not immediately be reached by the Register.

Family and friends huddle around Mollie Tibbetts' mother Laura Calderwood (center, in blue), including Tibbetts' brother, Jake Tibbetts (to right of cameraman), as Iowa DCI announces murder charges Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, in the Mollie Tibbetts investigation. Tibbetts was last seen July 18, 2018, after going for a jog in Brooklyn, Iowa.

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Rick Rahn, a special agent with the Iowa DCI, delivers a press conference about the discovery of a body found miles away from Brooklyn on Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. The body is believed to be that of missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts.

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The public watches as Special Agent Rick Rahn with the Iowa DCI holds a press conference Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, with information on the finding of remains that could be Mollie Tibbetts. Tibbetts was last seen July 18, 2018, after going for a jog in Brooklyn.

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The public watches as Special Agent Rick Rahn with the Iowa DCI holds a press conference Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, with information on the finding of remains that could be Mollie Tibbetts. Tibbetts was last seen July 18, 2018, after going for a jog in Brooklyn.

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Special Agent Rick Rahn with the Iowa DCI holds a press conference Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, with information on the finding of remains that could be Mollie Tibbetts. Tibbetts was last seen July 18, 2018, after going for a jog in Brooklyn.

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Special Agent Rick Rahn with the Iowa DCI holds a press conference Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, with information on the finding of remains that could be Mollie Tibbetts. Tibbetts was last seen July 18, 2018, after going for a jog in Brooklyn.

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The public watches as Special Agent Rick Rahn with the Iowa DCI holds a press conference Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, with information on the finding of remains that could be Mollie Tibbetts. Tibbetts was last seen July 18, 2018, after going for a jog in Brooklyn.

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Special Agent Rick Rahn with the Iowa DCI holds a press conference Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, with information on the finding of remains that could be Mollie Tibbetts. Tibbetts was last seen July 18, 2018, after going for a jog in Brooklyn.

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Family and friends of Mollie Tibbetts fight emotions as they hear details during a press conference in Montezuma on Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. Law enforcement have located a body and believe it to be that of missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts.

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Special Agent Rick Rahn with the Iowa DCI holds a press conference Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, with information on the finding of remains that could be Mollie Tibbetts. Tibbetts was last seen July 18, 2018, after going for a jog in Brooklyn.

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Special Agent Rick Rahn with the Iowa DCI holds a press conference Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, with information on the finding of remains that could be Mollie Tibbetts. Tibbetts was last seen July 18, 2018, after going for a jog in Brooklyn.

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Special Agent Rick Rahn with the Iowa DCI holds a press conference Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, with information on the finding of remains that could be Mollie Tibbetts. Tibbetts was last seen July 18, 2018, after going for a jog in Brooklyn.

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Special Agent Rick Rahn with the Iowa DCI holds a press conference Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, with information on the finding of remains that could be Mollie Tibbetts. Tibbetts was last seen July 18, 2018, after going for a jog in Brooklyn.

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Cristhian Bahena Rivera

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Mollie was remembered by her family and friends as a young woman who demonstrated a desire to help others, a natural ability to work with children and a gift for making anyone feel like the most important person in a room. 

Bahena Rivera has pleaded not guilty to murder. He is set to go to trial April 16. If convicted, he will be sentenced to life in prison.

When Ulises came back to a nearly empty home, he messaged Scott Tibbetts saying he did not know what was going to happen, the Post reported. Mollie’s brother texted back quickly, according to the newspaper, telling him: “Live here. We got an extra room.”

Check back for updates. 

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Read or Share this story: https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/2018/12/28/mollie-tibbetts-iowa-ia-brooklyn-mexican-immigrant-murder-suspect-ulises-felix-cristhian-rivera/2430196002/

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