"Multiple stab wounds" are what killed Mollie Tibbetts, her mom said in a Washington Post article published Friday

By Adam Carlson
December 28, 2018 06:35 PM
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The killing of Mollie Tibbetts, the 20-year-old University of Iowa student whose mysterious disappearance made national headlines, was a horror, according to her mother.

“Multiple stab wounds” are what killed her daughter, Laura Calderwood said in a Washington Post article published Friday.

“In the chest,” Calderwood said. “And I also know there was one in the skull.”

“Mollie’s death was horrific,” her mother said.

Calderwood opened up at length for the new Post report, detailing the wrenching contours of her grief and her life since Tibbetts, a sophomore who was studying psychology, disappeared without a trace on July 18 while out for her usual evening jog in the small town of Brooklyn.

Tibbetts’ remains were found a little more than a month later, hidden in an area cornfield. Authorities said the man accused of her murder, Cristhian Bahena Rivera, led them to her body.

An arrest affidavit in the case shows Rivera allegedly confessed to his crime, saying he ran after Tibbetts while she was out on her run and then attacked her after she threatened to call the police.

He said he “blocked” the actual slaying from his memory but came to and found her body in his vehicle, according to the affidavit.

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Mollie Tibbetts
| Credit: Poweshiek County Sheriff's Office
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Cristhian Bahena Rivera
| Credit: Charlie Neibergall/AP/Shutterstock

Preliminary autopsy findings in the case, released in late August, showed that Tibbetts died from “multiple sharp force injuries.”

Additional details, such as the weapon or object used and the extent of Tibbetts’ wounds, were not released. (The state medical examiner, who is handling Tibbetts’ case, was not available Friday to answer further questions about her killing.)

Rivera remains in custody on a charge of first-degree murder, to which he has pleaded not guilty.

His attorneys have not returned PEOPLE’s request for comment. Allan Richards, a lawyer who previously represented him, told PEOPLE in August: “He was just a part of the community. An all-American boy working really hard.”

“Whether or not there was something that happened that was very outrageous, that is a different matter,” Richards has said. “I have seen no evidence on that at no point and he is presumed innocent until we see it.”

If convicted, Rivera faces life in prison.

At her funeral, Tibbetts was remembered for her “infectious joy and smile.”

“Mollie’s my hero,” her dad said.

• With reporting by CHRIS HARRIS and CHRISTINE PELISEK