By THOMAS BEAUMONT, Associated Press
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds became emotional Friday discussing her telephone conversation with the mother of slain college student, and she urged residents not to politicize the case.
Asked during an impromptu news conference whether she expected Mollie Tibbetts’ family to become public advocates, Reynolds’ voice broke in recollecting her conversation Tuesday with Laura Calderwood. The body of her 20-year-old daughter was found that day.
“I talked to her as a mother and just really said there weren’t even words to express my sadness for her,” Reynolds said. “So that’s all we talked about. I talked to her as a mom. And as somebody that was trying to relate to her that the state was grieving for her and their loss and the individual needs to be held accountable.”
Police in Iowa filed a murder charge Tuesday in Tibbetts’ death. Authorities identified the man, who led them to Tibbetts body, as 24-year-old Cristhian Bahena Rivera and said he was in the United States illegally from Mexico.
Reynolds also told reporters politics ought not be injected into the matter. However, she noted in her initial statement about Tibbetts’ death that “too many Iowans have been lost at the hands of criminals who broke our immigration laws.”
Asked if the Tibbetts case represented one in a trend of similar crimes by people in Iowa illegally, Reynolds said, “One life is too many.”
In 2016, 21-year-old Sarah Root of Council Bluffs died after an automobile accident in Omaha involving Eswin Mejia, a 19-year-old immigrant from Honduras who as in the country illegally.
Reynolds, a Republican who became governor last year when then-Gov. Terry Branstad became U.S. ambassador to China, is seeking election to the office in November.
Democratic nominee for governor Fred Hubbell’s campaign also issued a statement Tuesday, making no mention of illegal immigration.