Image: AP

The death of 20-year-old Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts has become a grotesque bit of political theater for Donald Trump and the racist right, but members of Tibbetts’s family have spoken out against those seeking to exploit the tragedy.  

“I don’t want Mollie’s memory to get lost amongst politics,” Billie Jo Calderwood, Tibbetts’s aunt, told CNN. She echoed the sentiment in a Facebook post earlier this week:

Please remember, Evil comes in EVERY color. Our family has been blessed to be surrounded by love, friendship and support throughout this entire ordeal by friends from all different nations and races. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

Samantha Lucas, a second cousin, also told CNN she believes that Tibbetts “would not want this to be used as fuel against undocumented immigrants.”

Tibbetts’ death has been invoked in a truly nauseating fashion by pundits like Candace Owens and the actual White House, which have tried to use the reported immigration status of a suspect as fuel for their anti-immigrant crusade. Daily Caller reporter Benny Johnson even took time off from vacation to go on an a deeply racist Facebook rant and say, “How is it possible that the sub-human horror of the third-world can find its way to the peaceful farm communities of my upbringing?”

Meanwhile, the Tibbetts family grieves.

“At this time, our family asks that we be allowed the time to process our devastating loss and share our grief in private,” the family said in a statement. “Again, thank you for the outpouring of love and support that has been shared in Mollie’s name. We remain forever grateful.”