Mollie Tibbetts' family speaks out about tragic loss: 'Our hearts are broken'

The family of Mollie Tibbetts spoke about their heartbreak and forever losing a "sense of normalcy" after the Iowa college student was found dead following her disappearance more than a month ago.

Cristhian Bahena Rivera, a 24-year-old Mexican immigrant, has been accused of killing Tibbetts, whose body was found on Tuesday in a corn field near her hometown of Brooklyn, Iowa, where she had gone missing after going on a jog.

Tibbetts' brother, Jake, spoke about her on Wednesday at a vigil at the University of Iowa, where she was set to start her sophomore year.

"From our family from our friends from the community of Brooklyn (Iowa), we thank you from the bottom of our heart,'' Jake said at the vigil. "She was incredible and we're gonna miss her dearly. We're never gonna have that sense of normalcy again."

Tibbetts' family also issued a statement, saying "our hearts are broken."

"We know that many of you will join us as we continue to carry Mollie in our hearts forever.''

Her brother remembered her love for running, Harry Potter and the University of Iowa Hawkeyes. He urged people at the vigil to find someone they have never met before and make friends with them because that's the type of person Mollie was.

"What made her special is she was so outgoing, so loving, so passionate,'' he said. "She wasn't a silent person in the literal sense in that when she talked, everyone in the room heard her, and also about things she cared about, things she was passionate about. She wouldn't stay silent if she felt something was wrong, and that's what's so great about her."

Bahena has been charged with first-degree murder and is being held on a $5 million bond. Authorities said Rivera is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, which was quickly picked up by President Trump and his supporters.

"Mollie Tibbetts, an incredible young woman, is now permanently separated from her family,'' Trump said in a video he posted on Twitter. "A person came in, from Mexico, illegally, and killed her."

The father and son who run the family-owned dairy farm where Rivera worked said they used E-Verify, a government verification system, to assess Rivera's immigration status and that everything had checked out.

"What we learned in the last 24 hours was that our employee was not who he said he was," Dane Lang told reporters gathered at Yarrabee Farms in Brooklyn, Iowa.

Rivera's attorney, Allan Richards, said in a court filing that Rivera is in the country legally, saying Trump has hurt his client's chances for a fair trial.

"Sad and Sorry Trump has weighed in on this matter in national media which will poison the entire possible pool of jury members," Richards wrote in the court document.

Follow writer Scott Stump on Twitter.