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.

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Missing Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts found dead
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Missing Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts found dead
A ribbon for missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts hangs on a light post, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, in Brooklyn, Iowa. Tibbetts was reported missing from her hometown in the eastern Iowa city of Brooklyn in July 2018. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
This undated photo provided by the Iowa Department of Public Safety shows Cristhian Bahena Rivera. Authorities said on Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, that they have charged a man living in the U.S. illegally with murder in the death of Iowa college student, Mollie Tibbetts, who disappeared a month ago while jogging in a rural area. Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Special Agent Rick Rahn said that Rivera, 24, was charged with murder in the death of Tibbetts. (Iowa Department of Public Safety via AP)
A county truck blocks a gravel road, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, near Brooklyn, Iowa. Police say a body believed to be that of 20-year-old college student Mollie Tibbetts has been discovered in a rural area near where she went missing last month. University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts was reported missing from her hometown in the eastern Iowa city of Brooklyn in July 2018. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
People in the courtroom reacts after Cristhian Bahena Rivera's initial court appearance, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018, at the Poweshiek County Courthouse in Montezuma, Iowa. Rivera is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Mollie Tibbetts, who disappeared July 18 from Brooklyn, Iowa. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette via AP, Pool)
(Photo via Facebook)
Cristhian Bahena Rivera speaks with his attorney during his initial court appearance, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018, at the Poweshiek County Courthouse in Montezuma, Iowa. Rivera is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Mollie Tibbetts, who disappeared July 18 from Brooklyn, Iowa. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette via AP, Pool)
(Photo via Instagram)
A poster for missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts hangs in the window of a local business, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, in Brooklyn, Iowa. Tibbetts was reported missing from her hometown in the eastern Iowa city of Brooklyn in July 2018. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
My first experience as a best man went well🎉
Cristhian Bahena Rivera is escorted into the Poweshiek County Courthouse for his initial court appearance, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018, in Montezuma, Iowa. Rivera is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Mollie Tibbetts, who disappeared July 18 from Brooklyn, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
You guys really thought I was gonna let a birthday pass without a selfie?😎 (posting a day after but I took it on my birthday so whatever)
Just a Hawkeye with her hot guy 💛🖤
A poster for missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts hangs on the front door of a local business, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, in Brooklyn, Iowa. Police say a body believed to be that of 20-year-old college student Mollie Tibbetts has been discovered in a rural area near where she went missing last month.Tibbetts was reported missing from her hometown in the eastern Iowa city of Brooklyn in July 2018. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Happiest of birthdays to the person who made track bearable. Of all of the laps we ran together, the last one was the hardest (even if we made it the slowest) because we were ending quite an era😉 You are such a happy, hardworking, and genuine person, and I'm so lucky I get to call you my friend. Happy birthday my dude 😘😊
A ribbon for missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts hangs on a light post, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, in Brooklyn, Iowa. Police say a body believed to be that of 20-year-old college student Mollie Tibbetts has been discovered in a rural area near where she went missing last month. Tibbetts was reported missing from her hometown in the eastern Iowa city of Brooklyn in July 2018. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Cristhian Bahena Rivera is escorted into the Poweshiek County Courthouse for his initial court appearance, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018, in Montezuma, Iowa. Rivera is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Mollie Tibbetts, who disappeared July 18 from Brooklyn, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Currently wishing I was exploring water falls with best friend instead of sitting in an airport
A poster for missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts hangs in the window of a local business, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, in Brooklyn, Iowa. Tibbetts was reported missing from her hometown in the eastern Iowa city of Brooklyn in July 2018. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
I can't think of a caption but New York is cool
A poster for missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts hangs in the window of a local business, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, in Brooklyn, Iowa. Tibbetts was reported missing from her hometown in the eastern Iowa city of Brooklyn in July 2018. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Cristhian Bahena Rivera is lead into the courtroom for his initial court appearance, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018, at the Poweshiek County Courthouse in Montezuma, Iowa. Rivera is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Mollie Tibbetts, who disappeared July 18 from Brooklyn, Iowa. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette via AP, Pool)
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"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 TODAY.com writer Scott Stump on Twitter.

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