Mollie Tibbetts Murder: What Can We Learn?

Mollie Tibbetts death: Neighbour's security camera leads to police finding body in cornfieldToday, I use news stories about the Mollie Tibbetts (University of Iowa student) murder to teach tips that might benefit you. It is not my intention (or my place) to imply anyone involved did anything wrong. And, only the person facing people-danger has enough information to choose the best course of action.

News Sources

My Summary and Commentary

Mollie Tibbetts, a University of Iowa student, was reported missing about a month before her body was found. Some said Mollie Tibbetts had last been seen jogging. But, social media evidence seemed to imply she had returned home. She was to house sit for her boyfriend and his brother that night.

At first, we wondered if her boyfriend had murdered her. (Most murders are committed by someone known to the victim.) But, he was cleared. Info from her Fitbit showed how far she might have run. Authorities investigated a man who suspiciously photographed female joggers. Later, public interest in the Mollie Tibbetts case focused on a particular pig farmer who refused to take a polygraph test and had once been in a bit of trouble for “stalking” (harassing phone calls to an ex). After all, movies make us think pig farmers are often serial killers.

Authorities found the body of another woman while searching for Mollie Tibbetts. Eventually, someone who lived where she was believed to have jogged provided footage from their outdoor security camera. In fact, the video showed a car circling and following Mollie Tibbetts and a man leaving the car to talk then argue with her.

Police tracked the car to Cristhian Rivera and investigated him. He told them he had spoke to her and become angry. According to him, she threatened to call police then ran from him. He chased her and, apparently, is unclear about what happened from then to when he placed her dead body in a cornfield. (Details are shaky at this point.)

He worked at a farm in the area for four years and is probably a Mexican illegal alien. (In one report, his lawyer disputes that fact.) We can expect politicians to make a big deal out of his immigration status, for their own purposes.

Teaching Points Related to Mollie Tibbitts Murder:

#1 Be easy to find by your loved ones.

Should you be a victim of foul play, or suffer an accident, you want people to notice it quickly and start looking for you. Think how we had no idea another woman was missing (the first body found). But, we all worried for Mollie Tibbitts safety because her family worked hard to find her.

#2 It’s great if we all come together to look for a person missing in suspicious circumstances.

Sadly, in this case, efforts didn’t save Mollie Tibbitts. But, in many other cases, efforts of local authorities plus the FBI plus the public could find a missing person before it’s too late.

#3 Running doesn’t solve every self-defense concern.

Mollie was a good runner. It currently seems she knew she was in danger and decided to run as a strategy. Don’t run from an attacker if you don’t know exactly where you will run and have reason to believe you will get there well before your attacker. Yelling to attract attention is another option. In armored assailant self defense classes, ladies can learn the best way to yell when in danger. And, they can train themselves to avoid angering a potential attacker further while speaking to them. (The wrong words can push a person “over the edge” into doing things they otherwise wouldn’t.)

#4 There is no good reason not to take an armored assailant self-defense class.

One danger of running is that it puts the attacker behind you. It’s harder to fight when grabbed from behind than when grabbed from the front. Another danger of running is that, if you are caught and must fight, you may be out of breath so less able to strike hard. In an armored assailant self-defense class like taught by Model Mugging, IMPACT, Resolve, or FAST Defense, ladies learn effective verbal tactics and to fight an attacker from the front and from behind.

Click here for a list of classes that might be in your area! Or, call whichever is closest to you and see if they could travel to you if you get a group of ten or so friends to take a class with you. If you call a FAST Defense location, tell them Marcy Shoberg asked if they could include rear attacks in their beginner workshop. IMPACT, Model Mugging, and Resolve always include rear attacks in the beginner workshop. I’m also personally available to travel for workshops based on my book Not Prey: Facing the 7 People-Dangers for Young ladies.

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Pushed Off Bridge: What if it Was You?

Teen Pushed Off Bridge from nypost.comToday, I use news stories about Moulton Falls Teen Girl Pushed Off Bridge August 7 2018 to teach tips that might benefit you in similar situations. It is not my intention (or my place) to imply anyone involved did anything wrong. And, only the person facing people-danger has enough information to choose the best response.

News Sources

My Summary and Commentary

Some teenagers were at Moulton Falls Regional Park near Portland Oregon. They lined up to jump off of a bridge and land in water below. It’s illegal to jump there. But, lots of kids and adults do it. And, some get seriously injured. One girl (Jordan) had second thoughts when it was her turn and hesitated. Another, slightly older girl (Taylor), gave her a shove.

Jordan hit the water badly. We can assume she would have hit it better if she willingly jumped. Initially, news reports implied Taylor’s identity was unknown and she was much older. Later, she was accused of acting as if she didn’t care that she contributed to Jordan’s serious injuries. Lately, news reports have clarified that Taylor is 18, only 2 years older than Jordan. Some have implied that they are [were?] friends. Furthermore, authorities are considering charging Taylor with a crime.

Tips Related to Teen Girl Pushed off Bridge:

#1 Just because your friends jump off a bridge, that doesn’t make it a good idea for you

That’s a bit obvious. And, it’s a cliche. But, let’s not forget both Jordan and Taylor were participating in an activity they knew to be high-risk. It’s not my place to say you need to play it safe all the time. But, don’t fail to notice risky choices of friends or activities for what they are.

#2 If you are shoved from behind, turn with the push, letting it move you forward, while raising the arm on that side.

There is no “move” I know of that could have been used by Jordan to prevent her falling off the bridge since she could not step on ground in front of her. But, the move I explained above is a great one to know. It keeps you from falling due to the push (unless you are pushed off bridge) and puts you in a position to see and, if necessary, attempt to strike the person who pushed you.

#3 When you get an impulse to do something funny, quickly imagine through what is likely to happen next.

I suspect Taylor thought pushing Jordan would be funny and maybe helpful to Jordan. Sometimes people need a push from a friend to do something they fear. However, this is not one of those times. I suspect it didn’t occur to Taylor that Jordan would be very likely to mess up the landing if she was pushed rather than mentally prepared to jump. It’s nice there are comedians in the world. And, acting on impulse doesn’t usually cause problems. But, in the rare case it does, it might be a problem big enough to get the whole internet mad at you. Think before you act to avoid that.

#4 In the aftermath of an emergency, consider how your actions will be interpreted.

I don’t know if Taylor is as heartless as news reports make her seem. The media does go overboard to hype stories like Teen Pushed Off Bridge. If she feels no remorse for what she did though, it’s probably not her fault. After all, our feelings are products of our genetics and upbringing. Still, what we do with our feelings are choices. If you are ever in a situation where something you did could be interpreted as super-duper wrong, immediately display actions others would interpret as showing you are super-duper sorry. Even if you think everyone mad at you is wrong, don’t be defensive about it. If you can’t be sorry for what you did, be really, really sorry the situation happened.

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Brawl over Little League Game: Avoid and Stop Fights

This is commentary by me, author of Facing the 7 People-Dangers self-defense books. Today, I use the parent/coach fight (“Brawl over Little League Game”) in Plano, Texas June 14, 2018 to teach self-defense tips that might benefit you in similar situations. It is not my intention (or my place) to imply anyone involved did anything wrong.

From My Sources

Grown How to Stay out of a Fight: Brawl over Little League Gamemen brawl over Little League game view original web page at

The coach of the losing team threw blows with a father from the winning team over comments made. It was determined to be a “mutual fight between the two parties.” So, no charges have been filed. more info from cbslocal, original less-edited footage

My Thoughts

Highlights of the New York Post video titled Grown Men Brawl over Little League Game include “You got somethin’ to say about second place ain’t bad?” said with attitude in the voice, “You look like you wanna do somethin,” and “Come here.” The footage on YouTube doesn’t include some of those parts, but shows more of the aftermath of the fight. Both show other adults recording the fight, trying to break it up, and calling the police.

The relevant self-defense tips:

  1. A person can keep themselves from reacting to another’s derogatory looks and statements. This would keep a fight from starting. When thinking clearly, most people would find that preferable to making national news for something like this.
  2. Statements like the ones made before the fight became physical (NY Post video) show intention to fight. If you say these things, you are more likely to get into a physical fight. And, you would probably lose in court if you sue the person for medical expenses. And, you would probably be unhappy to find the legal system uninterested in punishing them.
  3. It might seem tacky to record such a thing, and video can be edited to slant facts. But, in this case it probably helped the authorities make the decision not to punish anyone. Too, adults often behave more maturely if they know they are being recorded.
  4. If you’re going to try to break up a fight, you need a team. The less physically able man wisely first stayed out of the way then got involved again, as back-up, when the stronger man tried to physically stop the fight.
  5. If you do try to physically break up a fight, don’t hamper one fighter in a way that gives the other an advantage. (In this case, those breaking up the fight sometimes hampered one and sometimes hampered both. And, for some time, we don’t see enough to know.)
  6. If you would ever consider actually taking the risk to break up a fight, you absolutely should be willing to get involved before blows are thrown, when the fight is only mean words, tones, and looks. The longer video (YouTube) clearly shows the main fight-stopper doing just that when a woman uses inflammatory words.

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